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Stock market today: Shares mixed in Asia ahead of updates on jobs, inflation

AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed Monday as investors awaited a slew of U.S. economic data set for release later in the week.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.6% to finish at 33,231.27. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.7% to 7,124.70. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5% to 2,516.89. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.5% to 16,749.07, while the Shanghai Composite edged 0.2% lower to 3,026.43.

China Evergrande’s Hong Kong traded shares were up 7% after a Hong Kong court postponed until Jan. 29 a hearing on its plan to restructure its massive debts. The company faces possible liquidation if creditors reject its restructuring plan.

Among the economic updates due this week are data on the job market, including the U.S. government’s closely watched monthly employment report for November.

“Traders prepare for a slew of actionable U.S. economic data scheduled for release this week, poised to be crucial in refining traders’ expectations regarding Federal Reserve policy. The insights garnered from this data may prove pivotal,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

Inflation data are also expected this week for several nations in Asia, including Japan, Thailand and the Philippines.

Wall Street finished last week with a fifth straight gain, as the S&P 500 reached its highest level in more than a year, gaining 0.6%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.8% higher, while the Nasdaq composite added 0.6%. Gainers outnumbered decliners by roughly 6-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The view that the U.S. Federal Reserve is finally done raising interest rates to curtail inflation has been a plus for markets. Data appear to show inflation easing since last year.

A U.S. government report on Friday showed that construction spending continued rising in October, topping economists’ forecasts for growth.

Treasury yields have been broadly falling amid sentiment that the Fed’s aggressive rate hike policy is finished and potentially heading for a reversal. On Friday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, rose to 4.25% from 4.21% late Friday. It was as high as 5.00% in October.

The yield on the two-year Treasury fell to 4.55% from 4.70% late Thursday. Falling bond yields have helped relieve pressure on stocks, especially technology stocks.

Investors entered December on track to close out the year with solid gains. For the year, the S&P 500 is up 19.7% and the Nasdaq composite is up 36.7%. Smaller-company stocks have also recently turned higher for the year following the market’s recent rally. The Russell 2000 index is now up 5.8% for the year.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost 34 cents to $73.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Overall, oil prices have been easing for several months. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 44 cents to $78.44 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched down to 146.69 Japanese yen from 146.76 yen. The euro cost $1.0877, down from $1.0885.

Article Topic Follows: AP National

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