Stock market today Asia shares rise amid Bank of Japan focus after the Fed stands pat

Tokyo, Jun 13 (AP) Asian shares mostly rose Thursday, as investors turned their attention to what the Bank of Japan might decide on monetary policy later this week.
    The Bank of Japan is not expected to raise its benchmark rate when it wraps up its meeting on Friday, but the economy is under pressure from the dollar's prolonged surge against the Japanese yen.
    “Given the recent hawkish hold' outcome from the Fed, if the BOJ were to stick to its usual accommodative tone in terms of policy settings, that may pave the way for the upward trend in the US dollar to the Japanese yen to continue,” Yeap Jun Rong, a market analyst at IG, said in a commentary.
    In currency trading, the US dollar edged up to 157.01 Japanese yen from 156.71 yen. The euro cost USD 1.0807, down from USD 1.0812.
    As expected, the Federal Reserve kept its main interest rate steady on Wednesday following its latest policy meeting. And Treasury yields dropped after a report on inflation showed US consumers paid prices that were 3.3 per cent higher for food, insurance and everything else last month from a year earlier. Economists had been expecting to see the inflation rate stuck at 3.4 per cent.
    Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.1 per cent in morning trading to 38,831.36. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 surged 0.5 per cent to 7,751.00. South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.4 per cent to 2,766.99. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained nearly 0.4 per cent to 18,001.18, while the Shanghai Composite declined 0.4 per cent to 3,026.27.
    Wednesday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 added 0.9 per cent to its all-time high set a day earlier, closing at 5,421.03. The Nasdaq composite also built on its own record and jumped 1.5 per cent to 17,608.44. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged the market with a dip of 0.1 per cent to 38,712.21.
    Smaller companies that need to borrow to grow and can therefore feel the pinch of higher interest rates more than larger rivals led the market. The smaller stocks in the Russell 2000 index jumped 1.6 per cent.
    For Wall Street, a slowdown in inflation not only helps US households struggling to keep up with fast-rising prices, it also opens the door for the Federal Reserve to cut its main interest rate. Such a move would ease pressure on the economy and give a boost to investment prices.
    Everything from bitcoin to gold to copper rallied after the inflation data raised expectations for coming cuts to interest rates. A measure of nervousness among investors in US stocks also eased.
    Policymakers welcomed the latest update on inflation, but “we'll need to see more good data to bolster our confidence,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said. He repeated the Fed's mantra that it needs an accumulation of data showing inflation is sustainably heading toward its 2 per cent target before it lowers the federal funds rate, which is at the highest level in more than two decades.
    “We'll have to see where the data lights the way,” he said, reiterating the Fed's commitment to moving based on where incoming reports steer it.
    Lower interest rates could mean easier mortgage rates, helping to inject energy into the housing market. Homebuilder D.R. Horton climbed 3 per cent. Builders FirstSource, which sells vinyl windows, custom millwork and other building materials, jumped 5.3 per cent.
    Oracle helped lead Wall Street higher with a leap of 13.3 per cent even though it reported weaker profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. Financial analysts pointed to strong bookings, including contracts related to artificial-intelligence training.
    A furore around AI has helped send stocks to records despite worries about high interest rates and the slowdown in the economy that they induce. Nvidia again was the strongest force pushing the S&P 500 higher, with a gain of 3.5 per cent. The chip company has become the poster child of the AI rush, and its total market value has topped USD 3 trillion.
    Apple was nearly as strong a force pushing up on the S&P 500 as Nvidia after rising 2.9 per cent. Its stock has been jumping the last two days after getting a cool initial reception to the announcement of several AI-related offerings coming to its operating systems.
    In energy trading, benchmark US crude lost 27 cents to USD 78.23 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 29 cents to USD 82.31 a barrel. (AP) GSP

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)