Stock market today: Asian shares meander after S&P 500 sets another record

BANGKOK– Asian shares were mixed on Thursday after US stocks emerged from a three-day lull to close at a record.

Oil prices rose, while US futures moved lower.

The dollar remained strong against the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, a trend that has alarmed regulators in both Tokyo and Beijing.

The dollar rose from 151.30 yen to 151.39 yen. The euro fell from $1.0828 to $1.0803.

On Wednesday, the yen fell to its lowest level since 1990, and Japanese officials reiterated their desire for stability in exchange rates.

“As the yen remains vulnerable, market participants will be vigilant for any indications of possible foreign exchange market intervention by Japanese policymakers,” Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a commentary.

The dollar bought 7.2286 yuan. The currency has also weakened against the dollar in recent weeks.

“We continue to think that policymakers in China and Japan will do enough to prevent their currencies from weakening much further, but the risk of a lower rate decline in one, or both, is increasing,” said Jonas Goltermann of Capital Economics in a note report.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 lost 1.5% to 40,168.07. Seoul’s Kospi also fell, losing 0.3% to 2,745.82.

Chinese markets recovered the previous day’s losses. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.1% to 16,571.35, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.6% to 3,010.66.

The Australian S&The P/ASX 200 rose 1% to 7,896.90. India’s Sensex rose 1.2% and Taiwan’s Taiex fell 0.3%.

In Bangkok, the SET lost 0.1%.

On Wednesday the S&The P500 rose 0.9% to a record 5,248.49, its first gain since hitting its last all-time high on March 21.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2% to 39,760.08, and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.5% to 16,399.52. Both finished a little shy of their own records.

Merck climbed 5% after federal regulators approved its treatment for adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare disease in which the blood vessels in the lungs thicken and narrow.

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group rose another 14.2%. The company behind the money-losing Truth Social platform has gone far beyond what critics say is rational, as fans of former President Donald Trump continue to push it higher and higher.

Robinhood Markets climbed 3.7% after unveiling its first credit card, reserved for its subscription-paying Gold members, along with other new products.

On Wall Street’s losing side was Nvidia, which posted its second straight loss after soaring 91% higher year to date and losing 2.5%.

GameStop tumbled 15% after making a profit in the last quarter and a decline in revenue from the previous year. It’s the original meme stock, predating Trump Media by years.

This week’s high point for the markets could come on Friday, when the US government releases the latest monthly update on US consumer spending. It will include the inflation measure that the Federal Reserve prefers to use in setting interest rates.

Both the US bond and stock markets will be closed for Good Friday. That could lead to a number of anticipatory trades coming together on Thursday, the last trading day of the first quarter of the year.

The S&The P500 is on track for its fifth winning month in a row and has been climbing higher since late October. The US economy has remained remarkably resilient despite high interest rates aimed at controlling inflation. Moreover, it appears that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting rates this year as inflation has cooled from its peak.

But critics say a broader range of companies will need to post strong profit growth to justify the big price moves. Progress on reducing inflation has also become bumpier recently, with reports of this year being warmer than expected.

Still, the broad expectation among investors is that the Federal Reserve will start cutting its key interest rate in June.

According to Ned Davis Research, stocks generally perform best when more than half of the world’s central banks cut interest rates. The world is not there yet, but several central banks have already started austerity recently, such as Switzerland’s, and that could happen later this year.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude rose 38 cents to $81.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, added 30 cents to $85.71 a barrel.