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Stock market today: Asian stocks meander after S&P 500 sets new record

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Thursday after U.S. stocks emerged from a three-day lull to close at a record.

Oil prices rose, while US futures fell slightly.

The dollar remained strong against the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, a trend that has unsettled regulators in Tokyo and Beijing.

The dollar fell from 151.30 yen to 151.39 yen. The euro rose from $1.0828 to $1.0803.

On Wednesday, the yen fell to its lowest level since 1990 and Japanese officials reiterated their desire for exchange rate stability.

“As the yen continues to show vulnerability, market participants will be vigilant for any hints of possible intervention by Japanese policymakers in the foreign exchange market,” Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a commentary.

The dollar bought 7.2286 yuan. It has also weakened against the dollar in recent weeks.

“We continue to believe that Chinese and Japanese policymakers will do enough to prevent their currencies from weakening much further, but the risk of a downward breakout in one or both is increasing,” said Jonas Goltermann of Capital Economics in a report.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 lost 1.5% to 40,168.07. Seoul’s Kospi also fell, losing 0.3% to 2,745.82.

Chinese markets recovered from the previous day’s losses. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 1.1% to 16,571.35, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.6% to 3,010.66.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index jumped 1% to 7,896.90. India’s Sensex added 1.2% and Taiwan’s Taiex slipped 0.3%.

In Bangkok, the SET lost 0.1%.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 index rose 0.9% to a record 5,248.49, its first gain since hitting its last all-time high on March 21.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.2% to 39,760.08 and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.5% to 16,399.52. Both finished a little short of their own records.

Merck soared 5% after federal regulators approved its treatment for adults with pulmonary hypertension, a rare disease in which blood vessels in the lungs thicken and narrow.

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group rose another 14.2%. The company behind the money-losing Truth Social platform has gone far beyond what critics consider rational, as fans of former President Donald Trump continue to push it higher.

Robinhood Markets rose 3.7% after unveiling its first credit card, reserved for its subscription-paying Gold members, as well as other new products.

On the losing side of Wall Street was Nvidia, which slumped to a second straight loss after soaring 91% for the year so far, losing 2.5%.

GameStop fell 15% after reporting a profit for the most recent quarter and a drop in revenue from a year earlier. This is the original meme stock, predating Trump Media by several years.

The highlight of this week for markets could come on Friday, when the US government releases the latest monthly update on US consumer spending. It will include the measure of inflation that the Federal Reserve prefers to use in setting interest rates.

US bond and stock markets will be closed for Good Friday. That could lead to a concentration of some anticipated trading on Thursday, the last trading day of the first quarter of the year.

The S&P 500 is on track for a fifth straight month of gains and has been rising since late October. The U.S. economy has remained remarkably resilient despite high interest rates intended to keep inflation in check. Additionally, the Federal Reserve appears poised to begin lowering interest rates this year as inflation has calmed from its peak.

But critics say more companies will need to generate strong profit growth to justify the big price swings. Progress on reducing inflation has also become more difficult of late, with reports hotter than expected this year.

Nonetheless, traders generally expect the Federal Reserve to begin cutting its main interest rate in June.

Stocks generally tend to perform better when more than half of the world’s central banks lower interest rates, according to Ned Davis Research. The world isn’t there yet, but several central banks have already started cutting spending recently, like Switzerland’s, and that could happen later this year.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 38 cents to $81.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, added 30 cents to $85.71 a barrel.

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