Asian shares weaken while Japan reports economy grew less than expected

Tokyo, Sept. 8 (BNA): Shares fell Friday in Asia after Japan reported its economy grew less than earlier estimated in the last quarter.


Oil prices declined, while U.S. futures edged higher.


Japan, the world’s third largest economy, grew at a 4.8% annual pace in the April-June quarter, below the earlier estimate of 6% growth, according to data released Friday.


Much of that growth was driven by exports, which rose nearly 13%, while private consumption fell 2.2% on weak investment spending. A separate report showed that wages declined in July for the 16th straight month, falling 2.5% from a year earlier, the Associated Press (AP) reported.


Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.2% to 32,606.84, while the Kospi in Seoul lost less than 1 point, to 2,547.68.


Hong Kong’s markets were closed due to a tropical storm.


The Shanghai Composite index shed 0.2% to 3,1016.87, while the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2% to 7,156.70.


On Thursday, Wall Street slipped in mixed trading Thursday as the threat of high interest rates continued to dog Big Tech stocks.


The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 4,451.14, for its third straight loss. The Nasdaq composite was hit particularly hard by the drop for tech stocks, sinking 0.9% to 13,748.83.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average held up better than the rest of the market because it has less of an emphasis on tech. It rose 0.2% to 34,500.73.

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Stocks felt pressure from the bond market, where yields rose earlier in the week after a report showed stronger growth for U.S. services industries last month than economists expected. Yields remained high after a report on Thursday said fewer U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected.


While such reports are encouraging for the economy, indicating a long-predicted recession is not near, they could also keep conditions humming strongly enough to push upward inflation.


The Federal Reserve has already hiked its main interest rate to the highest level in more than two decades in hopes of slowing the economy enough to drive inflation back down to its 2% target. It’s come close, and inflation has cooled from its peak above 9% last summer. But the worry is that the last percentage point of improvement may be the toughest for the Fed.


High interest rates drag stock prices, especially those of technology companies and others that have been bid up on expectations for high growth far in the future. Many of those stocks also tend to be the most influential on the S&P 500 because they’re the biggest.


Apple, the dominant force on Wall Street because it’s the most valuable stock, fell 2.9% after a 3.6% drop a day before.


Nvidia sank 1.7% to bring its loss for the week so far to 4.7%. It and a cohort of other stocks in the artificial intelligence industry have soared this year on expectations that AI could mean explosive future growth in profits.

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Power companies and other stocks seen as steadier investments also held up better than the rest of the market. Utility stocks in the S&P 500 rose 1.3% as a group. That was nearly double the gain of any of the other 10 sectors that make up the index.


In other trading Friday, U.S. benchmark crude oil shed 41 cents to $86.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added 67 cents on Thursday.


Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, declined 30 cents to $89.62 a barrel.


The dollar slipped to 147.19 Japanese yen from 147.30 late Thursday.


The euro was trading at $1.0718, up from $1.0697.




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