Asian shares fall, trading muted with Good Friday, holidays
Tokyo – Asian shares fell in muted trading as most world markets were closed for Good Friday and other holidays.
Benchmarks declined in Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. Sydney, Manila, Bangkok and Hong Kong were among Asian markets observing holidays on Friday. U.S. and European markets also were closed.
After markets closed, China’s central bank freed up extra money for lending to support the slowing economy by cutting the amount of reserves commercial banks are required to hold.
The move added about 500 billion yuan ($85 billion) to the pool for lending, a relatively modest sum compared with the size of China’s economy.
Shutdowns in major Chinese cities due to coronavirus outbreaks and the war in Ukraine have been 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 outlook for most countries and reaffirmed the danger high inflation presents to the global economy.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.3% to finish at 27,093.19. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.8% to 2,696.06. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.5% to 3,211.24.
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 Thursday, well below Musk’s offering price.
Markets had a mixed bag of economic data to review following several hot inflation reports earlier in the week. The U.S. 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 126.45 Japanese yen from 125.87 yen. It is hovering at 20-year highs. The euro cost $1.0817, down from $1.0829.
AP Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed.