Stock market today: Chinese shares lead gains in Asia on report of market rescue plan

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BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday, led by sharp gains in Hong Kong and Shanghai after a report said Beijing plans to put about 2 trillion yuan ($278 billion) into support to stabilize ailing Chinese markets.

The unconfirmed report by Bloomberg cited unnamed sources. It said China plans to tap offshore funds held by Chinese state-owned enterprises and also local funds.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 3.2% to 15,434.69 and the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.7%, at 2,776.06.

Shanghai had retreated on selling by investors disappointed by China’s decision to keep the loan prime rate unchanged despite concern over the outlook for the economy, which is forecast to slow further after a post-pandemic recovery faded more quickly than expected.

Shanghai’s benchmark fell 2.7% on Monday. It has been trading at its lowest levels since 2019. The Hang Seng was down about 12% so far this year as of Monday’s close.

Even if a substantial rescue plan helps staunch losses, it might not be a panacea if it falls short of building the confidence needed to sustain market stability, Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

“China’s sustained sell-off is taking place despite the rally in global equities. And rather than a delayed convergence in relative shifts, with the re-opening in China, the divergence has only worsened over time,” Tan said.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gave up earlier gains to edge 0.1% lower, closing at 36,517.57. It has been nudging closer to its all-time record of 38957.44 set in December 1989, before the implosion of a financial bubble that ushered in an era of slowing growth.

The Bank of Japan cited “extremely high uncertainties surrounding economies and financial markets at home and abroad” in saying it would continue its ultra-lax monetary policy, with its benchmark interest rate staying at minus 0.1%.

A policy statement also said the central bank “will not hesitate to take additional easing measures if necessary.”

Speculation that the BOJ would end the negative interest rate policy, put in place to spur spending and investment, has pulled the Japanese yen sharply lower. As of Tuesday morning, the U.S. dollar bought 147.62 yen, down slightly from 148.11 yen late Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6% to 2,478.61 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 7,514.90.

Bangkok’s SET was nearly unchanged.

On Monday, the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,850.43. The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 38,000 points, rising 0.4% to 38,001.81. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.3% to 15,360.29.

Macy’s climbed 3.6% after the retailer said it rejected a buyout offer from two investment companies, in part because it didn’t offer “compelling value.” SolarEdge Technologies rose 4% after it said it would cut 16% of its workforce, and NuStar Energy jumped 18.2% after Sunoco said it would buy the pipeline and storage company in a deal valued at $7.3 billion, including debt.

They helped offset a 24.2% drop for Archer Daniels Midland, which put its chief financial officer on leave. After getting a document request from U.S. regulators, it said it’s investigating some of its accounting practices. ADM also said it expects to report profit for the full year of 2023 that’s below what analysts were forecasting.

This upcoming week will have a rush of companies reporting their results for the last three months of 2023, with roughly 70 companies from the S&P 500 on the calendar. They include American Airlines, Intel, Procter & Gamble and Tesla.

On Thursday, the government will give its first estimate for how strongly the economy grew during the last three months of 2023.

Economists expect it to show the economy is still growing, but at a slower pace than during the summer. That’s what the Federal Reserve wants to see, because too strong of an economy would keep upward pressure on inflation.

On Friday, the government will release the latest reading for the inflation gauge that the Fed prefers to use. Economists expect it to show inflation held steady at 2.6% in December from a month earlier.

Treasury yields have eased significantly since October on expectations for coming rate cuts. That in turn has relaxed the pressure considerably on the stock market and helped it to rip higher. Yields dipped further on Monday.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 4.09% early Tuesday, down from 4.13% late Friday and from 5% in October.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 9 cents to $74.85 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 6 cents to $80.12 per barrel.

The euro rose to $1.0912 from $1.0884.

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