Asian stocks mixed in rare New Year’s Eve exchanges


BANGKOK (AP) – Stocks were mixed in Asia on Friday after a late decline tipped major indices into the red on Wall Street, leaving the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average slightly below record highs.

Tokyo and many other regional markets have been closed.

A survey released on Friday showed Chinese factory activity edged up in December as supply disruptions eased and export demand weakened.

The monthly purchasing managers’ index published by the national statistics agency and an industrial group rose to 50.3 from 50.1 in November on a scale of 100 points on which figures above 50 show an acceleration of the activity.

Hong Kong jumped 1.2% in New Years trading to 23,397.67 and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.5% to 3,638.24. Sydney lost 0.9% to 7,444.60 as the number of new coronavirus cases in parts of Australia increased.

The Indian Sensex rose 0.7%, while Singapore and Malaysia edged down.

2021 has been a mixed year for Asian markets. Some benchmarks, such as the Hang Seng in Hong Kong which suffered from turmoil in the Chinese real estate sector and US-China friction, languished. Others, like the Tokyo Nikkei 225 Index and the Shanghai Composite Index, turned but remained relatively stable.

The Indian Sensex, meanwhile, broke new records despite a severe wave of COVID-19 in the spring.

On Thursday, the benchmark S&P 500 fell 0.3% and the Dow and Nasdaq each lost 0.2%. Trading was relatively calm, with many investors closing their positions for the year.

Investors are unlikely to make any big moves until next week with the start of the new year, although in China, year-end skins may have pushed prices up.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 Index slipped 0.3% per day after hitting a record high, closing at 4,778.73. The Dow Jones, which also set a new record on Wednesday, fell 0.2% to 36,398.08. The Nasdaq also slipped 0.2% to 15,741.56.

The Russell 2000 index of small business stocks slipped less than 0.1% to 2,248.79.

Major US stock indices are set to end December with solid gains, closing a record year for the market. The S&P 500 is heading for a gain of over 27% for 2021, the best performance since 2019, yet another landmark year.

A wave of consumer demand fueled by reopening economies has pumped up corporate profits more than expected this year, helping to keep investors in a buying mood.

The Federal Reserve and other central banks have also helped by keeping interest rates low, making borrowing more affordable for businesses and consumers.

Many economic challenges persist, including rising inflation, disruptions to the global supply chain, and outbreaks of more contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus.

Investor concerns about the omicron variant, which is spreading quickly and quickly becoming the dominant variant of the coronavirus, have eased in recent weeks after researchers said it appeared to be causing less severe symptoms.

Tech companies were a big part of Wall Street’s fall in the late afternoon. Micron Technology led the industry’s decline, falling 2.4% after revealing that the release of its memory chip was hampered by a lockdown in the Chinese city of Xi’an intended to contain a coronavirus outbreak.

Investors have received some good news. The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits has fallen below 200,000, further proof that the labor market remains strong in the wake of last year’s coronavirus recession. Wall Street will receive the December jobs report next week.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, an indicator of manufacturing and economic activity, stood at 63.1 for December. That’s slightly better than the 62.0 reading economists were expecting, according to FactSet.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bill fell slightly to 1.51% from 1.54% the day before.

In other exchanges, US benchmark crude oil fell 42 cents to $ 76.57 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 43 cents to $ 76.99 a barrel on Thursday.

Brent crude oil, the base of international oil prices, fell 38 cents to $ 79.15 a barrel.

The US dollar rose from 115.08 yen to 115.09 Japanese yen. The euro edged up to $ 1.1327 from $ 1.1326.


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