Asian shares fall, trading muted with Good Friday holidays

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares fell in muted trading as markets were closed for Good Friday and other holidays.

Benchmarks declined in Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. Sydney, Sydney, Manila, Bangkok and Hong Kong were among markets observing holidays on Friday. U.S. and European markets also were closed.

Shutdowns in major Chinese cities due to coronavirus outbreaks and the war in Ukraine are weighing on sentiment.

“The Russia-Ukraine conflict inflation effects are now more meaningful than direct military developments in a market sense. These consequences have fabricated an uncertain environment that could keep investors wary,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.

“It should be a quiet session given the Good Friday holidays,” he added.

The head of the International Monetary Fund warned Thursday that Russia’s war against Ukraine was darkening the economic prospects for most of the world’s countries and reaffirmed the danger high inflation presents to the global economy.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.3% to 27,089.25. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.7% to 2,697.15. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.6% to 3,205.55.

Stocks closed lower on Wall Street as investors gave mixed reviews to earnings from four of the nation’s largest banks. The S&P 500 fell 1.2% to 4,392.59, ending a shortened trading week with a 2.1% decline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3% to 34,451.23. The Nasdaq fell 2.1% to 13,351.08. Smaller company stocks also lost ground. The Russell 2000 fell 1% to 2,004.98.

A quartet of big banks reported noticeable declines in their first-quarter profits as the latest earnings season kicks into gear. Volatile markets and the war in Ukraine caused deal-making to dry up while a slowdown in the housing market meant fewer people sought mortgages.

Citigroup rose 1.6% while Wells Fargo fell 4.5%. Morgan Stanley rose 0.7% and Goldman Sachs slipped 0.1%.

Bond yields rose again, sending the 10-year Treasury yield to 2.83%.

“With higher oil prices, higher bond yields, (it) implies the market continues to worry about inflation, worried about Ukraine, worried about the Fed’s response to all of this,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

Technology stocks led the way lower Thursday, offsetting gains elsewhere in the market. Pricey valuations for many of the bigger technology companies give them more sway in directing the broader market higher or lower. Microsoft fell 2.7%.

Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending also weighed on the market. Amazon fell 2.5%. Energy stocks rose along with the price of crude oil. Exxon Mobil rose 1.2%.

Investors again turned their attention to the drama surrounding Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk and Twitter. Musk offered to buy the social media company for $54.20 a share, two weeks after revealing he’d accumulated a 9% stake.

Musk has criticized Twitter for not living up to free speech principles and said, in a regulatory filing, that it needs to be transformed as a private company. Twitter’s stock fell 1.7% at $45.08, well below Musk’s offering price.

Wall Street had mixed economic data to review following several hot inflation reports earlier in the week. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.5% in March, boosted by higher prices for gasoline, as consumers continue to spend despite high inflation.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits ticked up last week, according to the Labor Department, but remained at a historically low level. The data reflect a robust U.S. labor market with near record-high job openings and few layoffs.

Inflation remains at its highest levels in 40 years in the U.S. and that has economists and analysts closely watching how consumers react to higher prices on everything from food to clothing and gasoline.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added $2.70 to $106.95 a barrel on Thursday, closing nearly 11% higher for the week. Brent crude, the international standard, gained $2.92 to $111.70 a barrel. Markets were closed Friday.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 126.42 Japanese yen from 125.89 yen. The euro cost $1.0801, down from $1.0832.

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AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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