Salem Radio Network News Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Business

Stock market today: Asian shares slip ahead of key US economic reports

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares declined in cautious trading Tuesday ahead of some key reports this week on the U.S. job market that might provide insight into the Federal Reserve’s thinking about interest rates.

U.S. futures slipped and oil prices were little changed.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 1.4% in morning trading to 32,782.14. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped nearly 1.0% to 7,056.00. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3% to 2,506.32. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.9% to 16,335.42, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.7% to 3,002.09.

A key report on Japanese inflation showed core consumer prices in Tokyo, which excludes volatile food prices, rose 2.3% from a year ago, slowing from previous months’ increases.

On Monday, the S&P 500 closed 0.5% lower. The benchmark index was coming off its best month in more than a year, and reached its highest level since March 2022 on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1%, while the Nasdaq composite dropped 0.8%.

Treasury yields rose broadly, putting some pressure on stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, climbed to 4.25% from 4.21% late Friday.

Technology and communication services companies were the biggest weights on the market. Microsoft fell 1.4%, Nvidia dropped 2.7%, Meta Platforms slid 1.5% and Netflix lost 2.5%.

Alaska Air Group slumped 14.2% after announcing it will buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1 billion in cash plus the assumption of debt. The deal would test the Biden administration as it fights consolidation in the airline sector.

Spotify surged 7.5% after announcing its third round of layoffs this year. Uber gained 2.2% after the ride-hailing service was named to join the S&P 500 index.

Hopes that inflation is easing enough to allow the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates have pushed shares higher in recent weeks. Investors are also hoping that the economy remains strong enough to avoid a recession.

This week will bring several key updates on the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management will release its November report on the services sector on Tuesday. The sector is a key component in the U.S. economy and accounts for the majority of the nation’s jobs. The report could provide more insight into consumer spending and the jobs market.

The government will release its October update on job openings on Tuesday and a weekly report on applications for unemployment benefits on Thursday.

The government’s monthly jobs report for November is due on Friday. Analysts polled by FactSet expect U.S. employers to have added 175,000 jobs last month. They forecast that the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.9%.

The labor market has remained strong in the U.S. even as the Fed has raised interest rates sharply in order to fight inflation by slowing the entire economy. Inflation has been falling since the middle of 2022. The central bank paused raising rates after its most recent increase in late July.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 11 cents to $73.15 a barrel. It fell 1.4% Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 2 cents to $78.05 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar fell to 147.16 Japanese yen from 147.19 yen. The euro cost $1.0842, up from $1.0838.

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AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.

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