Asian stocks were mixed on Thursday, as investors watched for signs of inflation and waited for US economic data expected later today.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.5% to 28,504.98. South Korea’s Kospi was virtually unchanged at 3,168.74. The Australian S & P / ASX 200 rose 0.3% to 7,109.90. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.2% to 29,106.10. The Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.3% to 3,604.33.
The Japanese government is expected to extend its “state of emergency” in some areas, including Tokyo, beyond May 31, in a bid to reduce cases of COVID-19. Public concern has increased with the Olympics set to start in Tokyo on July 23. Polls show a majority of residents want the games canceled or postponed.
âThere are pushbacks all around right now, and they’re going to buffet markets, largely because they’re not all pushing in the same direction,â RaboResearch said in a report.
Tech stocks were under pressure, although Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi rose 2.5% after confirming that the United States had removed it from the blacklist of Chinese tech companies.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended just under 0.2% higher after hesitating between small gains and losses. Retailers and other businesses that depend on consumer spending made solid gains. Communication and financial stocks have also helped boost the market. Gains were tempered by declines in healthcare, tech and other stocks.
The S&P 500 rose 7.86 points to 4,195.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which turned 125 on Wednesday, gained less than 0.1% to 34,323.05. The Nasdaq added 0.6% to 13,738. The Russell 2000 Small Business Index gained 2% to 2,249.27.
The S&P 500 hit an all-time high on May 7, but then fell for two straight weeks before this week. The index is on track for a gain this week of around 1%.
The next key economic update is scheduled for Thursday, when the Commerce Department releases its latest GDP report for the first quarter. Economists expect a huge rebound in 2021, and early-year results will give Wall Street a clearer picture of the future.
Economic growth has also raised concerns about inflation, although analysts expect much of the increase to be linked to economic growth and to be digestible. The concern centers on higher inflation, prompting governments and central banks to reverse economic stimulus and change course on interest rates. Federal Reserve officials said they did not see the need to change course yet.
Markets have been bumpy over the past few days as investors move past a bumper corporate earnings season and wait for further clues to economic growth and rising inflation.
In the United States, where vaccine deployment has progressed at a faster rate than in Asia, retailers, hotels and cruise lines are poised to grow as more people revert to pretense of normality.
In energy trading, benchmark US crude slipped 22 cents to $ 65.99 a barrel in e-commerce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 14 cents to $ 66.21 a barrel. Brent, the international standard, fell 26 cents to $ 68.61 a barrel.
In currency trading, the US dollar edged down to 109.08 Japanese yen from 109.14 yen. The euro cost $ 1.2197, compared to $ 1.2192.