Stock market today: Asian shares advance after the Federal Reserve raises interest rates

27 July 2023

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to their highest level in more than two decades, just as Wall Street expected.

Market attention turned to a decision later in the day by the European Central Bank and to whether Japan’s central bank might alter its longstanding ultra-lax monetary policy at a policy meeting that ends on Friday.

The ECB is expected to follow the Fed’s example.

“Today, all eyes will be on the ECB, where a 25 basis point hike is widely expected along with the door being left open for another hike in September,” ING Economics said in a commentary.

A 0.25 percentage point hike would take the ECB’s benchmark rate to 4.25%.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.7% to 32,891.16 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 0.9% to 19,545.77.

The Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.3% to 3,213.20. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.7% to 7,455.90. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.4% to 2,603.81.

Bangkok’s SET rose 0.8% and Taiwan’s benchmark gained 0.5%.

Stocks on Wall Street held steady Wednesday.

The S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1% to 4,566.75, remaining near a 15-month high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% to 35,520.12, and the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1%, to 14,127.29.

The bond market moved more sharply, and Treasury yields fell after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said no decision had been made about whether to raise rates at its next meeting or beyond. That may have bolstered hopes among traders that Wednesday’s hike could be the last for a long time.

Microsoft weighed on the market after falling 3.8% despite reporting better profit and revenue for the spring than expected.

Helping to limit the market’s losses was Alphabet, which rose 5.6%. The parent company of Google and YouTube reported better profit and revenue for the spring than analysts expected.

What Big Tech titans do matters more for Wall Street than other stocks because they have become so influential due to their massive size. Seven stocks alone accounted for most of the S&P 500’s returns through the first half of this year, largely on expectations that their explosive growth will continue. They’ll need to deliver big profits to justify those gains.

Meta Platforms, another member of the “Magnificent Seven,” reported its results after trading closed for the day. Its stock has soared 148% so far this year, while Alphabet and Microsoft are both up more than 40%.

Boeing, meanwhile, helped prop up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has less of an emphasis on Big Tech than the S&P 500. The aircraft maker reported a smaller loss for the spring than analysts expected, and revenue topped expectations. Boeing’s stock rose 8.7%.

In the bond market, the highlight was the Fed’s move to raise its federal funds rate to a range of 5.25% to 5.50% in hopes of wrestling down high inflation. That’s its highest level since 2001 and up from virtually zero early last year.

Rate increases work to lower inflation by grinding down on the entire economy, raising the risk of a recession and hurting prices for investments. Ending them would encourage more borrowing and investment.

The economy has so far defied predictions for a recession, largely because of a remarkably solid job market that has allowed U.S. households to keep spending. That has hopes rising that the Federal Reserve can pull off a “soft landing” for the economy where high inflation falls back to its target without a painful recession.

The Fed’s Powell said Wednesday that rates will likely need to stay high for a while to drive inflation lower.

“It’s really dependent so much on the data, and we just don’t have it yet,” Powell said.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.86% from 3.89% late Tuesday. It helps set rates for mortgages and other important loans.

In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 60 cents to $79.38 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 85 cents to $79.78 on Wednesday.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 46 cents to $83.02 per barrel.

The dollar fell to 140.09 Japanese yen from 140.25 yen. The euro rose to $1.1096 from $1.1087.

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