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Stock market today: World shares are mixed as Chinese markets reopen after the Lunar New Year

By ELAINE KURTENBACH, Associated Press
Published: February 19, 2024, 10:42am

BANGKOK — European shares were lower after a mixed session in Asia as Chinese markets reopened Monday from a long Lunar New Year holiday.

U.S. futures rose slightly while oil prices declined. Markets will be closed Monday in the United States for President’s Day.

Germany’s DAX shed 0.4% to 17,056.23 and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.5% to 7,729.47. In London, the FTSE 100 edged 0.1% lower, to 7,705.28.

In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.1% to 16,155.61 on heavy selling of technology and property shares despite a flurry of announcements by Chinese state banks of plans for billions of dollars’ worth of loans for property projects.

Major developer Country Garden dropped 4.2% and Sino-Ocean Group Holding plunged 3.9%. China Vanke lost 3.8%.

The Shanghai Composite index gained 1.6% to 2,910.54.

“The reopening of China’s markets after the Lunar New Year holiday typically garners attention, given China’s significant influence on global trade and economic activity,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report. “However, the market reaction has been muted, possibly influenced by the U.S. public holiday and the overall quiet week for US data.”

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell less than 0.1% to 38,470.38.

Major video games maker Nintendo’s shares sank 5.8% following unconfirmed reports that the successor to the Switch console would not be delivered within 2024.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 7,665.10 and the Kospi in Seoul picked up 1.2%, to 2,680.26. Bangkok’s SET added 0.1% and the Sensex in India was up 0.4%.

On Wall Street on Friday, the S&P 500 fell 0.5% from its all-time high set a day earlier and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4%. The Nasdaq composite sank 0.8%.

A report on inflation at the wholesale level gave the latest reminder that the battle against rising prices still isn’t over. Prices rose more in January than economists expected, and the numbers followed a similar report from earlier in the week that showed living costs for U.S. consumers climbed by more than forecast.

The data kept the door closed on hopes that the Federal Reserve could begin cutting interest rates in March, as traders had been hoping. It also discouraged bets that a Fed move to relax conditions on the economy and financial markets could come even in May.

Higher rates and yields make borrowing more expensive, slowing the economy and hurting prices for investments.

In the meantime, the hope is that the economy will remain resilient despite the challenge of high interest rates. That would allow companies to deliver growth in profits that can help prop up stock prices.

A preliminary report on Thursday suggested that sentiment among U.S. consumers is improving, though not by quite as much as economists hoped. That’s key because consumer spending makes up the bulk of the economy.

In other trading Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gave up 82 cents to $77.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, shed 89 cents to $82.58 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar fell to 149.92 Japanese yen from 150.16 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0776 from $1.0778.

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