Stock market today: Wall Street drifts amid worries about profits and hopes for a just-right economy


HONG KONG — Asian stocks were mostly lower Friday after Wall Street drifted to a mixed finish as momentum slowed following a strong rally in the first half of November.

U.S. futures and oil prices edged higher.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sank 2.2%, to 17,445.56, dragged lower by a 10% slump in shares of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba following its cancellation of a plan to spin off its cloud computing unit. The company cited uncertainties due to U.S. chip restrictions. Alibaba shares dropped as much as 10% in New York on Thursday.

The Shanghai Composite index edged 0.2% lower to 3,046.15.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.1% to 33,476.90 after Bank of Japan Gov. Kazuo Ueda indicated, in his annual report to the parliament, that the central bank has no immediate plans to change its ultra-lax monetary policy, which has kept the benchmark interest rate at minus 0.1% for years.

The gap between Japan’s negative interest rate and the U.S. benchmark rate of over 5.25% has pushed the value of the U.S. dollar much higher against the Japanese yen, complicating planning for corporations and raising costs for imports. But Ueda said the weak yen has both positives and negatives.

Early Friday, the U.S. dollar was trading at 150.55 Japanese yen, down from 150.73 yen. The euro edged up to $1.0854 from $1.0853.

In South Korea, the Kospi fell 0.8%, to 2,469.27. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1% to 7,049.30. Taiwan’s Taiex gained 0.3% and the Sensex in Mumbai was virtually unchanged.

Wall Street’s stocks drifted to a mixed finish Thursday as market momentum slowed following the sizzling rally of the first half of November.

Several reports on Thursday indicated the U.S. economy is slowing. Slightly more workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, and while the number is low relative to history, a softening in the job market could prevent strong raises in wages that the Fed fears could help keep inflation high.

The S&P 500 edged up by 0.1% to 4,508.24. It remains comfortably on track for a third straight winning week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1% to 34,945.47, and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.1% to 14,113.67.

“If anything, data on Thursday further highlighted the economic risks as a trade-off to tight monetary policies,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a market report.

Walmart weighed on the market with an 8.1% drop after it warned that shoppers began pulling back on spending late last month. The nation’s largest retailer’s forecast for upcoming holiday profit was weaker than analysts had expected.

Macy’s jumped 5.7% after delivering a surprising profit for the latest quarter. Sonos leaped 17.1% on speculation that it may start selling headphones in the second half of its fiscal year, which could be a meaningful new business.

Cisco Systems tumbled 9.8% even though it also reported stronger results for the latest quarter than analysts estimated. The company saw a slowdown of new product orders last quarter, and its forecasts for earnings were weaker than analysts expected.

Stocks in the oil-and-gas industry swooned after the price of crude tumbled sharply to its lowest level since July. Marathon Petroleum dropped 3.5%, and Halliburton fell 3.3%.

Early Friday, a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude for delivery in December was up 8 cents at $72.98. On Thursday, it tumbled $3.76 to settle at $72.90. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 10 cents to $77.52 per barrel.

November is on track to be the S&P 500’s best month in a year on rising hopes for a “Goldilocks” economy that’s just right for markets.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 4.44% from 4.54% late Wednesday. Just last month, it was above 5% at its highest level since 2007 and raising worries on Wall Street as it undercut prices for stocks and other investments.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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