Asian markets track Wall Street’s decline, eroding last year’s gains

Tokyo, Jan. 3 (BNA): Asian shares dropped Wednesday after Wall Street started 2024 with a slump, giving back some of its powerful gains from last year.

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

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1% to 16,618.50, influenced by a 2% drop in technology shares, while the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.1% to 2,966.13.

Prices of Chinese gaming companies rose, with Tencent Holdings and Netease both adding over 1% following local reports that a senior official responsible for overseeing China’s gaming industry had been dismissed after the release of draft regulations last month spurred a meltdown in gaming stocks just days before Christmas.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 1.4% to 7,523.20. South Korea’s benchmark slumped 2.3% to 2,607.31 after hovering around a 19-month high Tuesday amid the short-selling ban, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Bangkok’s SET lost less than 0.1% and India’s Sensex was down 0.4%.

Japanese markets remained closed for the New Year holiday.

On Tuesday Wall Street, the S&P 500 slipped 0.6% to 4,742.83 after coming into the year at the brink of an all-time high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1% to 37,715.04, and the Nasdaq composite led the market lower with a drop 1.6% to 14,765.94.

Some of the market’s sharper drops came from stocks that were last year’s biggest winners. Apple lost 3.6% for its worst day in nearly five months, and Nvidia and Meta Platforms both fell more than 2%. Tesla, another member of the “Magnificent 7” Big Tech stocks that drove well over half of Wall Street’s returns last year, swung between losses and gains after reporting its deliveries and production for the end of 2024. It ended the day down by less than 0.1%.

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Netherlands-based ASML sank after the Dutch government partially revoked a license to ship some products to customers in China. The United States has been pushing for restrictions on exports of chip technology to China. ASML’s U.S.-listed shares fell 5.3%, and U.S. chip stocks also weakened.

Health care stocks held up better after Wall Street analysts upgraded ratings on a few, including a 13.1% jump for Moderna. Amgen’s 3.3% gain and UnitedHealth Group’s 2.4% climb were two of the strongest forces lifting the Dow.

Investors were braced for a pause in the big rally that carried the S&P 500 to nine straight winning weeks and within 0.6% of its record set almost exactly two years ago. That big surge came on hopes the Federal Reserve may have engineered a deft escape from high inflation: one where high interest rates slow the economy enough to cool inflation but not so much that they cause a painful recession.

A report on Tuesday showed that the U.S. manufacturing industry may be weaker than thought. It contracted by more last month than an earlier, preliminary reading indicated, according to S&P Global, as new sales dropped because of weakness both abroad and at home. Business confidence, though, did pick up to a three-month high.

A separate report showed that growth in construction spending slowed by a touch more in November than economists expected.

Like stocks, Treasury yields in the bond market also regressed a bit on Tuesday following their big moves since autumn. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.94% from 3.87% late Friday.

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More high-profile reports on the economy will arrive later this week. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its last policy meeting, one that sparked hopes for a series of rate cuts coming this year.

Another report on Wednesday will show how many job openings U.S. employers were advertising at the end of November, data that the Federal Reserve follows closely. Friday will bring the U.S. government’s monthly tally of job growth across the country.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 2 cents to $70.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 4 cents to $75.85 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 142.11 Japanese yen from 141.99 yen. The euro increased to $1.0959 from $1.0936.


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