Tokyo, May 19: Asian shares were mostly higher on Friday as hopes grow that the US Congress will reach a deal to avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 per cent in early trading to 30,827.87. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 per cent to 7,270.20. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.6 per cent to 2,529.68.
Chinese shares fell on renewed worries set off by signs an extended lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic was hurting sales. Also weighing on Chinese shares were inflationary pressures and geopolitical risks, analysts said.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 1.4 per cent to 19,449.72, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.7 per cent to 3,274.87.
“While the broader risk environment has been singlehandedly uplifted by progress around the US debt ceiling negotiations, Chinese equities continue to struggle for gains,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market analyst at IG.
President Joe Biden, now in Hiroshima for the Group of Seven summit of developed nations, has said he’s confident about reaching a deal with Republicans to allow the US government to increase its credit limit and borrow more.
The US government is scheduled to run out of cash to pay its bills as soon as June 1 unless a deal is made, and economists say a US federal default could have catastrophic consequences across financial markets and the economy.
Wall Street shares rose after more companies reported better profits than expected, while yields climbed after a Federal Reserve official cautioned the end to its interest-rate hikes may not arrive as soon as Wall Street hoped.
The S&P 500 gained 0.9 per cent, adding to its rally from the day before as hopes rise that the U.S. Government can avoid a disastrous default on its debt. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 115 points, or 0.3 per cent, while the Nasdaq composite climbed 1.5 per cent.
The S&P 500 gained 39.28 points to 4,198.05. The Dow rose 115.14 to 33,535.91, and the Nasdaq climbed 188.27 to 12,688.84.
Video game maker Take-Two Interactive had the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after it forecast a huge jump in revenue for the fiscal year following this one. That stoked speculation that Grand Theft Auto VI is on the way, and its stock jumped 11.7 per cent.
Bath & Body Works was close behind with a gain of 10.7 per cent. It reported stronger revenue and earnings for the latest quarter than analysts expected.
Also helping to support Wall Street was another retailer, Walmart, which rose 1.3 per cent after reporting stronger results than expected for the latest quarter. It raised its financial forecast for the full year, though it said it’s seeing shoppers remain cautious about spending.
Much scrutiny has been on the retail industry because strong spending by US households has been one of the main pillars keeping the slowing economy out of a recession.
Stocks have remained remarkably resilient since early April despite a long list of worries. A major reason for that is hope the Fed would take it easier on its hikes to rates, which have slowed inflation at the expense of risking a recession and knocking down prices across financial markets.
The widespread bet was that the Fed would take a pause at its next meeting in June. But Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan cooled some of those hopes in a prepared speech for the Texas Bankers Association.
“The data in coming weeks could yet show that it is appropriate to skip a meeting,” Logan said. “As of today, though, we aren’t there yet.”
Treasury yields climbed as traders increased bets that the Fed would raise rates again at its June meeting, though the majority are still forecasting a pause.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.64 per cent from 3.57 per cent late Wednesday. The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for the Fed, rose to 4.25 per cent from 4.16 per cent.
In energy trading, benchmark US crude fell 12 cents to USD 71.74 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, edged down 7 cents to USD 75.79 a barrel.
In currency trading, the US dollar declined to 138.53 Japanese yen from 138.66 yen. The euro cost USD 1.0764, down from USD 1.0777. (AP)
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