Stock market today: Asian shares mostly higher ahead of US price update, OPEC+ meeting

BANGKOK– Asian shares were mostly higher on Thursday ahead of an update on US consumer inflation and a meeting of oil producers in Vienna.

US futures rose and oil prices also rose.

Later on Thursday, the US government will release its October data on the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure. Economists expect this measure to continue to relax, as has been the case since mid-2022. The Federal Reserve is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at its December meeting and eventually begin cutting rates if inflation remains under control.

Wall Street received encouraging news on Wednesday that the U.S. economy grew at a brisk 5.2% annual rate from July through September, up from the previous estimate of 4.9%. Consumer spending, the lifeblood of the economy, rose 3.6% year-on-year from July through September. That’s still healthy, but a downgrade from the previous estimate of 4%.

The prospect of a possible rate cut has eased upward pressure on the US dollar, allowing currencies such as the Japanese yen to appreciate. That could ease inflationary pressures that are calling into question the Bank of Japan’s long-standing lax monetary policy.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.5% to 33,486.89.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2% to 17,030.49. The Shanghai Composite index rose 0.3% to 3,029.67.

An official survey of Chinese factory managers showed production contracted in November, signaling further weakness in China’s slowing economy despite recent signs of improvement.

“The latest surveys show that the economy continued to lose momentum in November. However, they may be overstating the magnitude of the slowdown due to sentiment effects,” Sheana Yue of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6% to 2,535.29. In Australia the S&The P/ASX 200 rose 0.7% to 7,087.30. In Bangkok, the SET fell 0.5%. India’s Sensex lost 0.2% and Taiwan’s Taiex rose 0.4%.

OPEC+ members, whose oil revenues support their economies, will try to reach a consensus on production cuts on Thursday after postponing a meeting originally scheduled for Sunday.

U.S. benchmark crude fell 5 cents to $77.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, oil prices rose $1.45 to $77.86 per barrel.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 2 cents to $82.90 a barrel.

On Wednesday, Wall Street ended a choppy trading day with mixed results as a late afternoon pullback in several Big Tech companies offset gains elsewhere in the market.

The S&The P500 closed 0.1% lower at 4,550.58 after rising 0.7% earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.5% before ending with a gain of just 0.1%, at 35,430.42. The technology indicator Nasdaq fell 0.2% to 14,258.49 points.

Facebook parent company Meta lost 2%, Google’s parent company Alphabet had to lose 1.6% and Microsoft fell 1%.

Still, gainers on the New York Stock Exchange outnumbered decliners by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.

Automakers were among the bright spots. General Motors rose 9.4% after the company announced a major stock buyback, raised its dividend and told investors it will have no trouble absorbing the costs of its new labor contract. The stock is still down 6.1% this year, while the S&The P500 has risen more than 18%.

GM and its rivals agreed to new contracts with the United Auto Workers and Canadian auto workers in late October after strikes that lasted more than a month.

Ford rose 2.1% and Jeep maker Stellantis rose 5.3%.

Government bond yields fell, further removing pressure on equities. The yield on the 10-year government bond, which influences mortgage rates, fell from 4.33% to 4.27%. The yield on the 2-year government bond fell sharply from 4.75% to 4.66%.

Several stocks rose on Wednesday after strong financial updates. NetApp rose 14.6% after easily beating analysts’ earnings expectations in the latest quarter and raising its guidance for the year.

Las Vegas Sands fell 4.9% after Miriam Adelson, the casino operator’s controlling shareholder, sold about $2 billion worth of shares.

In currency transactions, the dollar fell from 147.24 yen to 147.08 Japanese yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.0971.