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Asian shares eye on inflation, US economy


Asian stocks are mixed as investors await US economic data, which is expected to come later in the day.

Tokyo – Asian shares were mixed on Thursday as investors looked for signs of inflation and waited for US economic data, expected to come later in the day.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 0.5% at 28,504.98. South Korea’s Kospi remained unchanged at around 3,168.74. Australia’s S&P / ASX 200 rose 0.3% to 7,109.90. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed down 29% at 29,106.10. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to close at 3,604.33.

The Japanese government is expected to expand its “state of emergency” on May 31 in some areas, including Tokyo, in an effort to curb COVID-19 cases. Public concern has increased with the Olympics starting in Tokyo on 23 July. Surveys show that the majority of residents want to cancel or postpone the games.

“Right now there are push-backs everywhere, and they are going to buffet markets, mainly because they are not all headed in the same direction,” Rabo Research said in a report.

Technology stocks were under pressure, though Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi gained 2.5% after it confirmed that the US had removed it from the blacklist for Chinese tech companies.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended at less than 0.2% after missing out on small gains and losses. Retailers and other companies that depend on consumer spending made solid profits. Communications and financial stocks also helped to lift the market. Health care, technology and other stocks dipped in gains.

The S&P 500 gained 7.86 points to close at 4,195.99. The 125-year-old Dow Jones Industrial Average rose less than 0.1% to 34,323.05 on Wednesday. Nasdaq rose 0.6% to 13,738. The Russell 2000 index of small companies rose 2% to 2,249.27.

The S&P 500 reached an all-time high on 7 May, but then fell for two straight weeks this week. The index is on track to rise nearly 1% this week.

The next major economic update is scheduled for Thursday, when the Commerce Department releases its latest GDP report for the first quarter. Economists are expecting a big rebound in 2021 and the results from the beginning of the year will give Wall Street a clear picture of how to proceed.

The growing economy has also raised inflation concerns, although analysts expect much higher growth to be linked to economic growth and will be digestible. Concerns around strong inflation prompt central governments and central banks to withdraw economic stimulus and change course on interest rates. Federal Reserve officials have said that they do not see any need to change course right now.

The market has fluctuated over the past few days as investors are moving through a spectacular corporate income season and awaiting additional clues on economic growth and inflation, which is on the rise.

In the US, where the vaccine rollout has progressed at a better pace than in Asia, retailers, hotels and cruise lines are poised for growth as more people return to some degree of normalcy.

In energy trading, benchmark US crude slipped 22 cents to $ 65.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 14 cents to $ 66.21 a barrel. International standard Brent crude dropped 26 cents to $ 68.61 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar fell from 109.14 yen to 109.08 Japanese yen. The euro is priced at $ 1.2197, up from $ 1.2192.

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