Asian shares mostly higher after Wall St sets new records

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mostly higher in Asia yesterday after a turbulent day on Wall Street ended with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 27,000 for the first time.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 per cent to 21,685.90 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.2 per cent to 28,477.83.

The Shanghai Composite index also climbed 0.4 per cent to 2,930.55, while Australia’s S&P ASX 200 lost 0.3 per cent to 6,696.50. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.3 per cent to 2,086.66.

Shares fell in Taiwan, Jakarta and Bangkok but rose in Singapore.

Regional investors were watching for Chinese trade data due out soon.

The Wall Street milestones came on a day when the S&P 500 briefly topped 3,000 for the second straight day before the rally ran out of steam.

The market lost some ground after an auction of long-term United States (US) government bonds failed to drum up strong demand.

That pulled bond prices lower, sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note to 2.13 per cent from 2.06 per cent late on Wednesday, a big move.

A man stands by an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo. – AP

Stocks have been trending higher for much of the week as investors have grown more confident that the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates for the first time in a decade as soon as the end of this month.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2 per cent to 2,999.91 and has set three straight record highs.

The Dow gained 0.8 per cent to 27,088.08. The Nasdaq composite gave up an early gain, sliding 0.1 per cent to 8,196.04, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 0.5 per cent to 1,557.92.

Stocks rose from the get-go on Thursday as investors looked ahead to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell testifying before a Congressional committee for the second straight day.

Powell stressed that the Fed is prepared to cut interest rates to support the economy, raising hopes that the first reduction in its key policy rate in a decade could happen later this month.

He noted that “uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the US economic outlook”.

New government data released on Thursday showed consumer prices rose in June from a year earlier.

The bump in inflation wasn’t expected to give the Fed reason to reconsider whether it should lower rates, if necessary.

Inflation has remained muted through much of the economy’s 10-year expansion, which Powell has said cited as a justification for potentially lowering rates.

“With the latest inflation data uptick led by volatile categories, equity investors quickly brushed it aside and continued to relish in the afterglow of a far more dovish than expected Chair Powell as rate cut fever remains alive and well,” Stephen Innes of Vanguard Markets said in a commentary.