GLOBAL MARKETS DJIA 34053.94 -39.02 -0.11% Nasdaq 12200.82 384.50 3.25% S&P 500 4179.76 60.55 1.47% FTSE 100 7820.16 59.05 0.76% Nikkei Stock 27564.90 162.85 0.59% Hang Seng 21547.50 -410.86 -1.87% Kospi 2468.45 -0.43 -0.02% SGX Nifty* 17708.50 69.5 0.39% *Feb contract USD/JPY 128.56-57 -0.12% Range 128.83 128.54 EUR/USD 1.0888-91 -0.19% Range 1.0923 1.0888 CBOT Wheat March $7.610 per bushel Spot Gold $1,914.95/oz 0.1% Nymex Crude (NY) $75.83 -$0.58 U.S. STOCKS
The Nasdaq Composite jumped to its highest level in nearly five months, powered by a resurgence in big technology stocks and investors' hopes that the Federal Reserve could pivot from hiking interest rates to cutting them later this year.
The Nasdaq rose 384.50 points on Thursday, or 3.3%, to 12200.82. The tech-focused index is having its best start to a year since 1975.
The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 60.55, or 1.5%, to 4179.76 in its third consecutive day of gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was the laggard, slipping 39.02, or 0.1%, to 34053.94 on weakness in some healthcare stocks.
Markets were also buoyed Thursday by fresh economic data. U.S. jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, showed continued resilience in the labor market, even amid layoff announcements in tech and other industries. Claims fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 183,000 last week, hitting their lowest level since April 2022.
Meanwhile, Labor Department data showed slowing wage growth, a sign that inflation may be easing. Unit-labor costs, a key measure of wages, rose 1.1% in the fourth quarter-down from a 2% rate in the third quarter and less than the 1.5% gain expected by economists.
The Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.3% at 27486.87 as gains in electronics and pharmaceutical stocks helped offset losses in energy and insurance stocks. Earnings were in focus. Denso Corp., Itochu Corp. and Mitsui & Co. are set to announce their results later in the day. The broader market index Topix was flat at 1965.80.
South Korea's benchmark Kospi edged 0.2% lower at 2464.07 in early trade on profit taking. Institutional investors were net sellers, offloading some growth stocks to book profit following recent gains. Cosmetics maker Amorepacific Corp. falls 2.3% after jumping 6.8% in the prior session. Its parent Amorepacific Group also loses 1.6% after a 8.7% surge in the previous session. Battery-part suppliers Hana Materials and SK IE Technology slide 2.3% and 2.1%, respectively, snapping a three-session winning streak. Memory-chip maker SK Hynix is down 0.6% after two straight days of solid gains. Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics edges up 0.2%.
Hong Kong stocks were lower in morning trade, further weakening after a broad downturn so far this week as the market pulled back from its rally at the start of the year. The benchmark Hang Seng Index shed 1.3% to 21666.03. Analysts at Ping An Securities said the market's previous bullish run has likely priced in much of the rebound in sentiment from China reopening, while elevated valuations are also fuelling profit-taking pressure. They reckoned sectors with more earnings recovery certainty--such as consumer goods makers and e-commerce platform operators--may stand out in coming months as better earnings underpin stock-buying interest.
Chinese shares were lower as investors took a breather from a recent rally fueled by China's reopening and global central banks softening rate hikes. Telecom and insurance companies weigh on the market. The Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.3% to 3275.66, the Shenzhen Composite Index was down 0.3% and the ChiNext Price Index was 0.4% lower.
Most Asian currencies consolidated against USD in the morning Asian session. While expectations of a Fed pause could support risk appetite, the coming visit by U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to China may renew trade tensions between the two countries, spurring safe-haven demand for the greenback, analysts said. China was seeking to convince Japan and the Netherlands to ease their ban on exports of semiconductor equipment, but these talks were unlikely to succeed, so U.S.-China relations may continue to deteriorate, said ING economists in a research report. USD/JPY was little changed at 128.69 while USD/KRW edged 0.1% higher to 1,226.41.
Gold was slightly higher in early Asian trade. Investor expectations of easing interest rate rises look "relatively optimistic" for now, which could buoy gold prices in the near term, said Jinshi Futures. But it cautioned that profit-taking pressure may emerge as the recent gains have priced in most positive factors and advised against aggressively chasing the upturn. Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,914.95/ounce.
Oil prices rose in early Asian trade, extending a rangebound trading pattern so far this week. Easing rate hike expectations have driven up a host of commodity prices, but Baocheng Futures analysts reckoned oil prices may suffer some near-term volatility as elevated prices raise profit-taking pressure. Baocheng added that looming global recession fears and tight monetary policies globally were likely to further cap upside. Front-month WTI futures advanced 0.3% to $76.12/bbl; front-month Brent rose 0.3% to $82.42/bbl.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires