BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower on Monday after China reported weaker growth than forecast in the last quarter.
Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday and Hong Kong’s market closed due to a typhoon. U.S. futures and crude oil prices were lower.
The Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.2% to 3,199.17 after China reported its economy grew at a 6.3% annual pace in April-June. That’s better than the 4.5% expansion in the January-March quarter but well below forecasts of over 7%.
The economy is expected to slow further in coming months, though investors will be expecting moves from Beijing to prop up growth.
So “the data will be viewed through the lens of how it will influence the policy decisions made at the upcoming Politburo meeting in late July," Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.
In Seoul, the Kospi shed 0.5% to 2,613.60, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged less than 0.1% lower, to 7,300.40. Bangkok's SET was up less than 1 point.
On Friday, Wall Street’s latest winning week closed with a mixed finish following stronger profit reports than expected from several big U.S. companies.
The S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 4,505.42, edging back from its highest closing level since April 2022. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3% to 34,509.03 and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.2% to 14,113.70.
Insurance giant UnitedHealth Group rallied 7.2% after it said profit growth during the spring was better than feared.
JPMorgan Chase rose 0.6% after it said its profit during the spring grew by more than expected thanks partly to its acquisition of the troubled First Republic Bank. Wells Fargo swung to a drop of 0.3% from an earlier gain after reporting stronger profit for the second quarter than expected.
The earnings reporting season is just getting underway, and once again Wall Street’s expectations are low. Analysts are forecasting the worst drop in earnings per share for S&P 500 companies since the spring of 2020. That would mark a third straight quarter where profits sank.
Such expectations are key for financial markets, because one of the biggest factors behind a stock’s price is how much profit the company earns. Wall Street nevertheless rallied hard this week thanks to rising optimism about the other major lever that sets stock prices: how much investors are willing to pay for each $1 of corporate profits.
Two reports earlier this week showed that inflation continued to cool across the U.S. economy in June. That bolstered investors’ hopes that the Federal Reserve is close to feeling comfortable enough to halt its blistering campaign to raise interest rates.
The Fed has already hiked its federal funds rate to a range of 5% to 5.25%, up from virtually zero early last year. High rates undercut inflation by slowing the economy and putting downward pressure on prices for stocks and other kinds of investments.
The expectation is still for the Fed to raise rates one more time at its next meeting in two weeks. But traders are largely betting on that being the final hike of the cycle.
A report on Friday suggested consumers are feeling much better about the economy thanks to slower inflation and a still-solid job market. A preliminary reading on a University of Michigan survey showed consumer sentiment at its highest level since September 2021, though lower-income consumers weren't feeling as positive.
Solid spending by U.S. consumers has been one of the main pillars keeping the economy out of a recession. They've kept spending despite high interest rates as employers have continued to hire more workers.
In other trading Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 65 cents to $74.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.47 to $75.42 a barrel on Friday.
Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, declined 72 cents to $79.15 a barrel.
The dollar slipped to 138.63 Japanese yen from 138.82 yen. It has weakened recently amid speculation that the Bank of Japan might alter its ultra-lax monetary policy soon. That may shrink the gap between higher returns in other markets where interest rates have been hiked sharply, and Japan, where the benchmark rate has been kept at minus 0.1% for a decade.
The euro weakened to $1.1225 from $1.1229.