Stock market today: Wall Street ends higher at the start of a holiday-shortened week


Asian shares advanced on Wednesday, tracking Wall Street gains as markets there reopened for what’s expected to be a quiet, holiday-shortened week of trading.

U.S. futures were higher and oil prices were steady.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index added 1.2% to 33,681.24 as details of a policy meeting by the Bank of Japan showed officials divided about the timing and need to shift away from the central bank’s longstanding lax monetary policy.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.9% to 16,661.00 and the Shanghai Composite gained 0.6% to 2,915.05 with Chinese video gaming companies, including Tencent and NetEase, recouping losses in the first Hong Kong trading session after the government attempted to alleviate market fears about draft guidelines to impose controls over how companies earn money from games. However, the gains were dwarfed by the losses from a broad sell-off on Friday.

NetEase’s Hong Kong-traded shares gained 10.4%, after its Nasdaq-listed stock added 5.2% on Tuesday. Tencent’s were up 5.9% in Hong Kong and Bilibili added 7.5%.

The Kospi in Seoul was up 0.4% to 2,613.50. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.8% higher at 7,561.20.

Bangkok’s SET dropped less than 0.1% and the Sensex in Mumbai climbed 0.7%.

Tuesday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.4% to 4,774.75, finishing less than 0.5% below its all-time high set nearly two years ago. The benchmark index is coming off eight straight weekly gains, its longest winning streak since 2017.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% to 37,545.33, while the Nasdaq composite ended 0.5% higher to 15,074.57.

Trading was relatively light as U.S. markets reopened following the Christmas Day holiday. Still, the latest gains were widespread, with advancers outnumbering decliners by nearly 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Technology and industrial stocks accounted for a big share of the gains. Intel climbed 5.2% for the biggest gain among S&P 500 stocks. Caterpillar added 1.8%.

Energy stocks climbed as the price of U.S. crude oil rose 2.7%. Hess closed 1.4% higher.

Solid gains by smaller company stocks also helped lift the market, pushing the Russell 2000 index 1.2% higher.

Treasury yields were mixed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 3.90%.

Some stocks surged on company deal news. Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb said Tuesday that it will acquire RayzeBio in a $4.1 billion deal, just days after buying Karuna Therapeutics for $14 billion. Bristol-Myers shares fell 1.6%, while RayzeBio doubled to $61.40, close to the $62.50 that each share will fetch in its acquisition.

Shares in HollySys Automation Technologies jumped 5.2% after the company received an updated buyout offer from a consortium led by Dazheng Group Acquisition.

Stratasys vaulted 13% to $14.82 per share after Nano Dimension announced it has offered to pay $16.50 per share in cash for the buy the maker of 3D printers. Stratasys rejected an earlier buyout bid from Nano Dimension in April.

Gracell Biotechnologies surged 60.3% after the Shanghai-based biopharmaceutical company agreed to be acquired by AztraZeneca.

With less than a week to go in 2024, the S&P 500 is now up more than 24% for the year, while the Nasdaq is up 44%.

Investors have been encouraged by reports showing inflation is on the decline even as the economy appears stronger than expected.

The Federal Reserve is walking a tightrope, seeking to slow the economy enough through elevated interest rates to cool inflation, but not so much that it tips the nation into recession.

In other trading early Wednesday, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 4 cents to $75.53 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 8 cents to $80.93 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 142.79 Japanese yen from 142.38 yen. The euro rose to $1.1050 from $1.1044.

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