By ELAINE KURTENBACH
AP Business Writer
Shares were higher in Asia on Friday as investors stepped up buying despite another decline on Wall Street that kept the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on track for their first weekly losses in three weeks.
Shares rose in Tokyo, Hong Kong and other major markets, bouncing back from losses earlier in the week. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was steady at 1.31% and U.S. futures were higher.
Markets appeared to take in stride a decision by the European Central Bank to dial back some of its massive emergency pandemic support for the economy amid signs of increasing business activity and consumer readiness to spend as the 19 countries that use the euro rebound from the coronavirus recession.
Investors were reassured by ECB head Christine Lagarde’s insistence that the shift was only a “recalibration” of existing stimulus — not a signal that pandemic support is being phased out.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.2% to 30,362.41 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 1.4% to 26,079.12. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4% to 3,125.84. The Shanghai Composite index advanced 0.7% to 3,717.31. Shares rose in Taiwan and Singapore, and fell in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Investors are assessing the pace of economic growth amid worries that the rapid spread of the coronavirus delta variant will dampen consumer confidence and spending.
“The economy seems to be slowing down a little bit and it’s hard to know how much is temporary because of the delta variant and how much is the new normal,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.
In New York, technology and health care companies posted the biggest losses, offsetting gains in energy companies and banks. The S&P 500 fell 0.5%, its fourth straight drop, to 4,493.28. The Nasdaq pulled back 0.3%, to 15,248.25.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4% to 34,879.38.
Small company stocks fared better than the broader market. The Russell 2000 index gave up 0.60 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,249.13.
Bond yields mostly fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.30% from 1.33% late Wednesday.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 310,000. At their current pace, weekly applications for benefits are edging toward their pre-pandemic figure of roughly 225,000.
But other reports show the jobs market is still struggling to recover. The Labor Department’s jobs survey for August was far weaker than economists expected, but the agency has also reported that employers are posting record job openings.
Fed officials have indicated they expect to dial back on stimulus measures by year’s end, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned Congress that she will run out of maneuvering room to prevent the U.S. from breaching the government’s borrowing limit in October unless the debt ceiling is raised.
In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 10 cents to $68.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up $1.16 to $68.14 per barrel on Thursday.
Brent crude rose 14 cents to $71.49 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar rose to 109.75 Japanese yen from 109.73 yen. The euro was trading at $1.1829 from $1.1825 late Thursday.
AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.
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