Financial Market

Stock market today: Asian stocks drift lower after Wall St closes another winning week

HONG KONG — Asian stocks were mostly lower on Monday after Wall Street coasted to the close of another winning week.

U.S. futures were mixed and oil prices fell.

The release of weak Chinese lending data and news that the U.S. government plans to raise tariffs on a raft of Chinese exports were weighing on sentiment.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.1% to 38,179.46. The country’s first quarter economic growth figures are due to be released on Thursday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.6% to 19,073.38, helped by buying of technology shares.

New loans fell to 730 billion yuan ($100 billion) in April from 3.09 trillion yuan in March and total credit declined partly due to a lower level of government bonds being issued. Officials said the data show demand remains weak with the real estate sector still ailing.

The Biden administration is expected to announce this week that it will raise tariffs on electric vehicles, semiconductors, solar equipment, and medical supplies imported from China, according to people familiar with the plan. Tariffs on electric vehicles, in particular, could quadruple from 25% to 100%.

These tariffs, which were said to be announced on Tuesday, sparked selling of some automakers. Chinese EV maker BYD’s stock dropped 0.6% and NIO slumped 2%.

Taiwan’s Taiex gained 0.7% after leading computer maker TSMC reported its revenue surged nearly 60% in April from a year earlier. India’s Sensex fell 0.4%.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 0.2% to 5,222.68 to finish a third straight winning week following a mostly miserable April. Early gains shrank after a discouraging report on U.S. consumer sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3% to 39,512.84, and the Nasdaq composite edged down by 5.40 to 16,340.87.

The S&P 500 is within 0.6% of its record, helped by revived hopes the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates this year. A flood of stronger-than-expected reports on profits from big U.S. companies has also helped support the market.

Gen Digital jumped 15.3% after reporting better profit for the first three months of 2024 than analysts expected. The cyber safety company, whose brands include Norton and LifeLock, also authorized a program to buy back up to $3 billion of its stock. It joined a lengthening list of companies announcing big such programs, which helps goose per-share earnings for investors.

Novavax nearly doubled and shot 98.7% higher after announcing a deal with Sanofi that could be worth more than $1.2 billion. The agreement includes a license to co-commercialize Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine worldwide, with some exceptions. Novavax also reported a slightly smaller loss for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

They helped offset a drop of 11% for Akamai Technologies, which topped expectations for profit but fell short for revenue. The cloud-computing, security and content delivery company also gave some financial forecasts for the upcoming year that fell short of analysts’ expectations.

In the bond market, Treasury yields rose following the discouraging preliminary report from the University of Michigan.

It suggested sentiment among U.S. consumers is weakening by much more than economists expected, and the drop was large enough to be “statistically significant and brings sentiment to its lowest reading in about six months,” according to Joanne Hsu, director of the survey of consumers.

Potentially even more discouraging is that U.S. consumers were forecasting inflation of 3.5% in the upcoming year, up from their forecast of 3.2% a month earlier. If such expectations spiral higher, the fear is that it could lead to a vicious cycle that worsens inflation.

It highlights how some companies have recently been describing increasing struggles among their customers, particularly their lower-income ones.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost 7 cents to $78.19 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, was 10 cents lower at $82.69 a barrel.

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