Asian shares mixed after stimulus lifts Dow, S&P to records

A currency trader walks by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 12, 2021. Stocks were mixed in Asia on Friday after broad gains lifted several major indexes to all-time highs on Wall Street. (

Stocks were mixed in Asia on Friday after broad gains lifted several major indexes to all-time highs on Wall Street.

Tokyo’s benchmark rose 1.7%. Hong Kong declined but the Shanghai Composite index recovered from early losses. Oil prices fell and the yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury rose to 1.57%.

U.S. markets surged Thursday after President Joe Biden signed into law a sweeping pandemic relief package that would provide $1,400 checks for most Americans and direct billions of dollars to schools, state and local governments, and businesses affected by pandemic-related shutdowns, which began a year ago.

That and progress in vaccinations against Covid-19 have helped settle some of the uncertainty that has roiled markets in recent weeks.

“With regular service resumed, we can expect markets globally to end the week on a positive note,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. But a calming of worries over inflation, eased by a lower than expected U.S. consumer price reading for February, is likely temporary, he said.

“The inflation genie may have been put back into its bottle for the weekend, but someone is sure to pick it up and uncork it again soon,” Halley said.

The Nikkei 225 added 506 points to 29,717.83, while South Korea’s Kospi climbed 1.4% to 3,054.39. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.8% to 6,766.80. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.8% to 29,135.73 and the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.3% to 3,448.35.

Shares rose in Taiwan and Jakarta but fell in Singapore and Malaysia.

On Thursday, the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and a measure of small-company stocks all closed at record levels as a recent stretch of volatile trading in the bond market continued to ease, keeping investors in a buying mood.

The S&P 500 added 1% to 3,939.34. The Dow added 0.6% to 32,485.59, its second all-time high in a row.

The Nasdaq composite gained 2.5% to 13,398.67. The tech-heavy index, which earlier in the week skidded more than 10% below its February peak, has regained some ground, but remains 4.9% below that all-time high.

Traders also bid up shares in smaller stocks, pushing the Russell 2000 index up 2.3% to 2,338.54.

Technology stocks, which have been hurt this year by rising bond yields, led the market higher, aided by solid gains in communications services companies and those that rely on consumer spending. Banks, utilities and household goods companies fell.

The stimulus coupled with ultra-low interest rates are expected to help charge growth as industries bounce back from pandemic downturns, analysts say.

“We’re entering this environment where growth is going to be higher than expected,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management. “With higher growth you get higher interest rates.”

The biggest IPO in years rolled out Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange where Coupang, the South Korean equivalent of Amazon in the U.S., or Alibaba in China, began trading under the ticker “CPNG.” The stock soared 40.7%. It’s actually the largest initial public offering from an Asian company since Alibaba went public about seven years ago and the biggest in the U.S. since Uber’s more than $8 billion IPO in 2019.

General Electric fell 7.4% for the biggest slide in the S&P 500 for the second straight day. The industrial titan announced it would wind down its GE Capital business and merge its jet leasing business with Ireland’s AerCap. GE is in the midst of a multi-year turnaround plan, but investors have been concerned GE has been selling off too many of its more profitable assets.

The price of U.S. crude oil rose 2.5% and lifted energy company stocks. Occidental Petroleum jumped 5.5% and Hess rose 3.2%.

On Friday, benchmark U.S. crude slipped 43 cents to $65.59 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard for pricing, lost 40 cents to $69.23 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar cost 108.86 Japanese yen, up from 108.53 yen late Thursday. The euro fell to $1.1946 from $1.1983.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.