Asian stocks were mostly lower on Friday amid uncertainty over prospects for a global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.5% in morning trading to 28,900.98. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.7% to 3,150.48. The Australian S & P / ASX 200 was down 0.6% to 7,042.60. The Hong Kong Hang Seng lost 1.4% to 28,883.41, while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.6% to 3,454.76.
The regional market declines came despite reports of strong economic growth in South Korea and a moderation in the unemployment rate in Japan, despite a resurgence of the pandemic.
Recent major outbreaks and slow progress in vaccinations have added to concerns about the pandemic in Asia, although some countries such as Taiwan, South Korea and China are doing relatively well in COVID-related illness and death. -19.
Japan remains a poor performing country on these fronts, with deaths now exceeding 10,000 in what experts are calling a fourth wave of infections. Tokyo and some other urban areas are under a government declared state of emergency, but reports say people continue to go out and travel in Japan during the Golden Week holidays that last until the next week.
On Thursday on Wall Street, stocks weathered a midday drop to close broadly higher, pushing the S&P 500 up 0.7% to another record close. Communications companies contributed much of the gain, thanks to a sharp increase in Facebook following the company’s latest quarterly report. Banks also helped lead the rally, offsetting the decline in healthcare and tech stocks. Treasury yields have been mixed.
Investors weighed in on the latest batch of corporate earnings reports and encouraging economic data. A report showing that the US economy grew strongly in the first quarter adds to data indicating a recovery from the recession caused by the pandemic. Other bullish reports included data showing more Americans were signing home purchase contracts in March after two months of declines.
âWe are experiencing a strong economic recovery that is translating into a strong earnings environment for businesses,â said Bill Northey, senior director of investments at US Bank Wealth Management.
The S&P 500 Index rose 28.29 points to 4,211.47. The index also hit an all-time high on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7% to 34,060.36, while the Nasdaq gained 0.2% to 14,082.55. Both clues had slipped earlier in the day.
Smaller company stocks, which have outperformed the market as a whole this year, have returned some of their recent gains. The Russell 2000 Index lost 0.4% to 2,295.46.
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, massive support from the U.S. government and the Fed, and increasingly positive economic data have fueled expectations of a strong economic rebound and strong growth in the economy. corporate profits this year. This has helped stocks move higher and keep indexes near all-time highs.
Still, some of the big risks to the market include rising inflation getting out of hand and any aspect of the viral pandemic getting worse and disrupting the economic recovery, said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments.
âWithout one of these two, the macroeconomic direction seems clear,â he said.
So far, corporate profits for the first three months of the year have largely exceeded Wall Street expectations and are fueling the bullish earnings outlook for 2021.
Facebook jumped 7.3% after the social media giant reported stronger-than-expected results for the first quarter thanks to surging ad revenue.
Amazon.com reported after the close of regular trading that its profit more than tripled in the first quarter. Its shares jumped 4.2% after hours.
Automakers fell sharply after Ford warned that a worsening global computer chip shortage could cut production in half in the current quarter. Ford fell 9.4% and General Motors fell 3.4%.
Rideshare and delivery service companies have also plummeted following a report that Labor Secretary Marty Walsh wants construction workers classified as employees. DoorDash fell 7.6%, Uber lost 6%, and Lyft fell 9.9%.
Economically, the Commerce Department said the US economy grew at a steady 6.4% annual rate in the last quarter. This acceleration is expected to increase throughout the summer as more vaccinations are administered and COVID-19 cases continue to decline. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor said the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits fell again last week.
In energy trading, benchmark US crude fell 37 cents to $ 64.64 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up $ 1.15 to $ 65.01 a barrel on Thursday. Brent, the international standard, fell 31 cents to $ 68.25 a barrel.
In currency trading, the US dollar fell to 108.76 Japanese yen from 108.93 yen. The euro fell to $ 1.2118, little changed from $ 1.2122.