Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed as investors weigh weakness in the tech sector

21 July 2023

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed Friday in Asia after the latest rally on Wall Street fizzled, with big declines for Tesla, Netflix and other big tech-oriented stocks.

Hong Kong, Seoul and Bangkok advanced while Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney declined. U.S. futures edged higher and oil prices also climbed.

Taiwan’s Taiex 0.8% fell after TSMC, the world’s biggest manufacturer of computer chips, said it expects its sales to fall 10% this year as demand wanes. It also said it would not meet a 2024 target for starting production at a factory under construction in Arizona. TSMC’s shares fell 3.1%.

Japan reported consumer inflation edged higher in June, from 3.2% to 3.3%, but mainly due to increases in electricity rates. Price increases excluding energy and volatile food costs fell. That eases pressure on the central bank to adjust the ultra-lax monetary policy that it has kept in place for over a decade to counter sluggish economic growth.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4% to 32,351.56, while the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.2% to 7,307.80. The Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.2% to 3,162.37.

In Seoul, the Kospi gained 0.1% to 2,603.66 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.5% to 19,029.45. Thailand’s SET rose 0.4%.

On Thursday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.7% to 4,534.87, while the Nasdaq lost 2.1%, its biggest drop in more than four months. It closed at 14,063.31.

The Dow was an outlier, gaining 0.5% to 35,225.18, because it includes fewer tech stocks.

A report Thursday suggested the job market remains remarkably solid. Fewer workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected, an indication that layoffs aren’t worsening.

The strong job market has helped U.S. households continue spending despite much higher interest rates meant to bring down inflation, and that has helped keep the economy out of a long-predicted recession.

Investors are puzzling over an economy that may be too hot or too cold, with risks of recession appearing to recede as hopes grow for a “soft landing” for the economy, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.

“So, for now, however, investors are likely waiting on further evidence of soft landing dynamics to come into play,” he said.

Tesla tumbled 9.7% despite reporting stronger profit and revenue for the spring than expected. Analysts said investors may be concerned about its profitability after it cut prices for its electric vehicles.

Tesla is one of the most valuable companies on Wall Street so its stock movements carry extra weight.

Netflix sank 8.4% despite also reporting stronger profit than expected. One important measure for the company, how much revenue it makes from paid memberships on average, fell during the quarter from a year earlier.

Big Tech stocks have rallied hard this year, helping drive the S&P 500’s big gains. Netflix is still up 48% for the year so far, and Tesla has more than doubled.

Nvidia fell 3.3%, though it remains 211.5% higher for the year so far.

Across the rest of Wall Street, companies reported a mixed set of results.

Zions Bancorp. rose 10% after reporting stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than expected. Truist Financial sank 7.1% after reporting weaker revenue than expected.

Banks have been under heavy scrutiny since three failed earlier this year, hurt by the heavy weight of high interest rates.

The biggest loss in the S&P 500 came from Discover Financial, which slid 15.9%. Its results for the latest quarter fell short of forecasts, and it disclosed it was working with regulators to resolve an accounting error dating back to 2007 that misclassified some credit card accounts. It also said it was pausing buybacks of its stock while it conducts an internal review.

Johnson & Johnson helped drive the Dow’s gains, climbing 6.1% after reporting profit and revenue that both topped expectations for the latest quarter. It also raised forecasts for financial results for the full year.

In other trading Friday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 63 cents to $76.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 36 cents to $75.65 on Thursday.

Brent crude oil, the pricing basis for international trading, rose 62 cents to $80.26 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 140.22 Japanese yen from 140.07 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1138 from $1.1130.

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AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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