Asian shares mixed after retreat on Wall Street
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Thursday after benchmarks closed broadly lower on Wall Street in a third day of retreat.
The price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies declined further. Stocks rose in Tokyo and Sydney but fell in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Japan’s government reported that exports rose 38% in April from a year earlier while imports climbed nearly 13%, indicating a recovery in overseas demand even as the country weathers its worst bout of coronavirus outbreaks so far.
Exports to the U.S. rose 45% while those to China jumped nearly 34% in a strong rebound after last year’s shocks from lockdowns and other precautions taken to curb the pandemic.
The Nikkei 225 regained lost ground, edging 0.2% higher to 28,067.53, while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 surged 0.9% to 6,993.90. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng skidded 0.7% to 28,381.13 while Seoul’s Kospi declined 0.5% to 3,157.70. Shares rose in Singapore and Jakarta but fell in Taiwan.
On Wednesday, the S&P 500 index dropped 0.3% to 4,115.68 after recovering from a 1.6% slide earlier in the day. The benchmark index is on track for its second weekly loss in a row.
Bank stocks were among the biggest decliners. Goldman Sachs fell 1.7% and Wells Fargo lost 1.5%. Retailers and other companies that rely directly on consumer spending also pulled the market lower. Home Depot slid 0.7%, Gap fell 3% and L Brands dropped 3.1%.
Energy sector stocks, the biggest gainers so far this year, bore the heaviest losses as the price of U.S. crude oil skidded 3.5%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5% to 33,896.04. The Nasdaq fared better than the rest of the market, shedding less than 0.1%, to 13,299.74.
Smaller company stocks also lost ground. The Russell 2000 index lost 0.8%, to 2,193.64.
Digital currencies fell sharply after China’s banking association issued a warning Wednesday over the risks associated with digital currencies.
Bitcoin’s price was down 6.2% to $38,140, well below its all-time high of over $64,800 reached a month ago, according to the crypto news site Coindesk. It swung in a huge range of as low as $30,202 and as high as $43,621 over the course of the day.
That the headline out of China rattled crypto investors suggests the market was already weak, said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at All Star Charts.
“If Bitcoin had been holding up better, a headline like that would be dismissed more readily, but it comes at a time when Bitcoin was already well off its highs,” he said. “It gave people who were looking for a reason to sell cover.”
The Bitcoin skid comes after longtime Bitcoin advocate Tesla recently recently said it would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for its cars, reversing its earlier position.
The selling was so intense that the web site of Coinbase, an online brokerage for digital currencies, was temporarily down in the morning. Coinbase’s stock dropped 5.9%, ending about 34% below the peak it reached on April 16, just two days after its IPO.
Investors continue to focus on whether rising inflation will be temporary or whether it will endure. Prices are rising for everything from gasoline to food as the economy recovers from its more than year-long malaise.
The fear is that the Federal Reserve will have to dial back its extensive support if inflation persists. That includes record-low interest rates and the monthly purchase of $120 billion in bonds meant to goose the job market and economy.
The minutes from the central bank’s April meeting of policymakers, which were released Wednesday afternoon, reaffirmed the view that the Fed’s decision to keep its benchmark interest rate ultra-low remains the best policy approach, though some officials cautioned that some factors pushing inflation higher may not be resolved quickly.
Treasury yields mostly rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.66% from 1.67% late Wednesday.
In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil added 11 cents to $63.46 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $2.50 on Wednesday to $63.35 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard for pricing, rose 9 cents to $66.75 per barrel.
The dollar fell to 109.14 Japanese yen from 109.23 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.2185 from $1.2174.
AP Business writers Alex Veiga and Damian J. Troise contributed.