Asian Shares Retreat After S&P 500 Hits Fresh Record Close

A man looks at an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Shares retreated in Asia on Friday after a broad rally for stocks drove the S&P 500 index to an all-time high as weak manufacturing data from Japan helped dampen investor sentiment.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.8% to 21,286.49 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 0.3% to 28,476.75. South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.3% to 2,124.73 and in Australia, the S&P ASX 200 declined 0.7% to 6,641.40. India’s Sensex lost 0.5%. Shares edged higher in Taiwan and Thailand but fell in Singapore.

The Shanghai Composite index added 0.6% to 3,005.36.

A preliminary survey of Japanese manufacturers, the IHS Markit flash purchasing managers index showed indicators dropping, with new orders at the lowest level in three years.

“A soft patch for automotive demand and subdued client confidence in the wake of U.S.-China trade frictions were often cited by survey respondents,” the report said.

Wall Street capped a broad rally for stocks Thursday by driving the S&P 500 index to a fresh record, up 0.9% to 2,954.18, a record high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose 0.9%, to 26,753.17. The Nasdaq gained 0.8% to 8,051.34 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 0.5% to 1,563.49.

Thursday’s rally came as investors balanced optimism over the possibility that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in response to a slowing global economy with jitters about the prospects of dimmer corporate profits should a severe slowdown take hold.

Those worries prompted traders to shift money into safe-haven assets this week, such as gold and U.S. government bonds. The yield on the 10-year Treasuries briefly slid Thursday as low as 1.97% after falling a day earlier to 2.02%. The yield, which is used to set interest rates on mortgages and other loans, is the lowest it’s been since November 2016.

The price of gold, meanwhile, jumped 3.6%.

“If the Fed is going to cut rates it means that the economic environment is slowing down,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA. “You have investors looking to bonds to hide out in. You’re also seeing a big move up in gold on the back of the Fed’s decision as well.”

The price of U.S. crude oil fell back early Friday after jumping 5.4% overnight on fears that escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran could cause oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz to be compromised.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it shot down a U.S. drone over Iranian airspace. U.S. officials said the drone had not violated Iranian airspace. The drone shooting follows an attack last week on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman.

Crude prices had been in a bear market just weeks ago, what Wall Street calls a drop of 20% or more.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 24 cents to $56.85 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up from its close Thursday of $57.07. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gave up 12 cents to $64.33 per barrel. It rose 4.3% Thursday to close at $64.45 a barrel.

The dollar fell to 107.08 Japanese yen from 107.28 yen on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1296 from $1.1295.

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