Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Stock market today: Asian markets fall with Japan's Nikkei falling 3.5% as tensions rise in the Middle East | National News

HONG KONG (`) — Asian stocks tumbled Friday, with Japan's Nikkei falling 3.5% on strong selling in semiconductor stocks and other market heavyweights.

Tensions in the Middle East weighed on sentiment across the region, with US futures falling sharply.

Oil prices rose by about $3 as state news agency IRNA reported that Iran fired air defense batteries early Friday morning following reports of explosions near the city of Isfahan.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 3.51% to 36,742.05.

The biggest loser was semiconductor equipment maker Lasertec, which lost 9.7% in morning trading. But most other major technology stocks also fell. Renesas gave up 7.3%, Tokyo Electron lost 7.8% and Sony Group Corp. lost 3.3%.

Toyota Motor Corp fell 3.7%.

Japan's headline inflation rate slowed to 2.7% in March, while the core-core index, excluding fresh food and energy costs, fell to 2.9%, the first time since November 2022 that the index was below 3% fell.

The yen was slightly firmer against the US dollar, with the latter falling to 153.80 Japanese yen from 154.64 yen.

Markets are awaiting the next move from Japan's central bank after it raised its key interest rate last month for the first time in 17 years, ending a long-standing policy of negative interest rates meant to stimulate the economy. But the rate remains near zero.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.7% to 7,512.70. South Korea's Kospi fell 2.9% to 2,558.56. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.4% to 16,161.24, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.1% to 3,071.76.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.2% to 5,011.12 after swinging between small gains and losses throughout the day. Although the decline was small, it was still enough to cause the index to lose its fifth consecutive loss. That's the longest losing streak since October and is 4.6% below the record set late last month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1% to 37,775.38 and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.5% to 15,601.50.

Equifax fell 8.5%, one of the market's biggest losses, after the company reported weaker sales for its latest quarter than analysts expected. High interest rates are putting pressure on the mortgage lending business.

The only stock in the S&P 500 that fell more was Las Vegas Sands, which fell 8.7% despite reporting better-than-expected results. Analysts said investors were worried about the competition the casino and resort company faces in Macau, an enclave in southern China that is among the world's largest gambling havens.

Helping offset those losses were Elevance Health, which rose 3.2% after raising its full-year profit forecast. Original parts rose 11.2%, the biggest gain in the S&P 500, after the automotive and industrial parts retailer reported higher profits than analysts expected. In addition, the range for forecast profits for the full year was increased.

Stocks have struggled recently as bond market yields rise. They are adding to the pressure because investors have largely given up hopes that the Federal Reserve will make numerous interest rate cuts this year.

Yields edged higher after more reports on Thursday showed the U.S. economy remains stronger than expected.

Fewer workers filed for unemployment benefits last week than economists expected, according to a report. It's the latest sign that the job market remains solid despite high interest rates.

Another report on Thursday said manufacturing growth accelerated sharply in the Mid-Atlantic region, while economists had expected it to decline.

A third report said sales of occupied U.S. homes didn't fall as sharply last month as economists had expected.

Similar data, as well as a series of reports showing that inflation has remained higher than forecast this year, have led top Fed officials to say recently that they could keep interest rates high for a while longer.

That's a disappointment after the Fed previously signaled three rate cuts could be possible this year. But Fed officials insist they want to ensure inflation falls toward their 2 percent target before cutting the Fed's key interest rate from its highest level since 2001.

In oil trading, U.S. benchmark crude rose $2.77 to $85.50 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $3.40 to $90.51 a barrel.

The euro fell from $1.0644 to $1.0623.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Comments are closed.