TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday as investors awaited updates on U.S. consumer prices.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 2.9% to 37,961.48. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index lost some of its gains and fell 0.2% to 7,603.60. South Korea's Kospi rose 1% to 2,647.03.
Markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were closed for the Lunar New Year.
Japan's producer price index data showed a 0.2% year-on-year increase, although flat month-on-month. This could ease pressure on the central bank to change its long-standing ultra-accommodative monetary policy and raise the benchmark interest rate from -0.1%.
“This modest figure may suggest that the pass-through to consumer prices is still limited, and the Bank of Japan is likely to take a wait-and-see approach for the time being,'' IG market analyst Yep Jun Long said in a note. This could give them room to continue.”
The next big event for markets could be Tuesday's update to the national inflation rate, with economists expecting inflation to fall below the 3% level.
Wall Street remained relatively strong on Monday after a recent record-setting week. The S&P 500 index fell 0.1% to 5,021.84 after Friday's close above the 5,000 mark for the first time.
Most index constituents rose, but losses at Microsoft and other tech companies weighed on the index.
The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.3% to 15,942.55, due in part to weakness in tech stocks. Earlier in the day, it was trading just above the all-time closing price set in 2021. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3% to $38.797.38, setting a new record.
Overall market conditions were calm and bond market yields were stable.
The seven largest companies accounted for a disproportionate share of the S&P 500's record rise, raising concerns about how top-heavy the stock market has become. Criticism that the market is too expensive could be allayed if more companies, beyond the group known as the Magnificent Seven, can achieve strong profit growth.
Another market concern is uncertainty about how much risk to the economy lies in the commercial real estate loans and other assets banks hold on their balance sheets.
That's why it's getting so much attention new york community bancorp recently. Two weeks ago, it shocked investors by announcing a surprise loss for its latest quarter. Some of the pain was due to its acquisition of Signature Bank during the industry's mini-crisis last year. But concerns about commercial real estate also played a role.
New York Community Bancorp's stock price has roughly halved since that surprising news, but was a little more stable on Monday. The stock fell 0.2%.
The index showing stock prices for the local banking industry as a whole rose 1.8%.
In the bond market, yields were little moved. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield fell to 4.16% from 4.18% as of late Friday.
The yield on the two-year Treasury note, which more accurately reflects expectations from the Federal Reserve, held at 4.48% as of late Friday.
Inflation has cooled down enough federal reserve He hinted that key interest rates could be cut several times this year. These rate cuts typically energize financial markets and the economy, releasing pressure that has built up since the Fed raised its key interest rate to its highest level since 2001.
Traders had previously expressed hope that interest rate cuts could begin as early as March, but have since pushed back their expectations to May or June. Reports indicating that the U.S. economy and job market remain extremely strong, as well as comments from Federal Reserve officials, have forced the postponement.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 12 cents to $77.04 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard crude, rose 8 cents to $82.08 a barrel.
In foreign exchange trading, the dollar rose from 149.34 yen to 149.55 yen. The euro fell to $1.0771 from $1.0774.