Stock market today: Chinese stocks lead Asia's gains, Evergrande faces liquidation

HONG KONG — Asian markets opened the week on a positive note, with Chinese regulators announcing measures to support the country’s teetering stock markets while heavily indebted property developer China Evergrande was ordered to undergo liquidation.

U.S. futures were lower while oil prices gained.

China’s securities regulator announced on Sunday that beginning Monday, China will suspend the lending of specific shares for short selling, a move to support the country’s declining stock markets. The specific shares refer to Restricted Stock, which is typically allocated to employees or certain investors subject to sales restrictions.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.9% % to 16,102.02 and the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.3% at 2,918.81.

China Evergrande Group will be liquidated after a Hong Kong High Court approved a creditor petition on Monday. The heavily indebted developer repeatedly had asked authorities to grant it more time to work out a resolution for its offshore debts. Evergrande has more than $300 billion in liabilities and can appeal the order.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index climbed 1.1% to 36,121.09. In South Korea, the Kospi jumped 1.5% to 2,507.50.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 0.3% higher to 7,576.60. In Bangkok, the SET rose 0.2%.

On Friday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 4,890.97. It was its first decline after a six-day winning streak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% to 38,109.43. Weakness for tech stocks dragged the Nasdaq composite to a loss of 0.4% to 15,455.36.

Intel led chip stocks lower even though it reported stronger profit for the last three months of 2023 than analysts expected. It dropped 11.9% after giving forecasts for revenue and profit for the start of 2024 that fell short of Wall Street’s estimates.

KLA, a supplier for the chip industry, also dragged on tech stocks despite reporting better quarterly results than expected. It sank 6.6% after saying it still sees market conditions as challenging in the near term and giving a forecast for upcoming revenue that fell short of analysts’ estimates.

The latest report on Friday showed the measure of inflation the Fed prefers to use behaved just about exactly as expected in December. Overall inflation by that measure was 2.6% during the month, matching November’s rate.

The Fed pays more attention to the inflation figure after ignoring prices for food and fuel, which can zigzag sharply month to month. That figure cooled to 2.9% from 3.2% and was a bit better than economists expected.

At the same time, spending by U.S. consumers strengthened by more in December than expected. That helped calm worries that a resilient U.S. economy, which has so far refused to fall into a long-predicted recession, would mean upward pressure on inflation.

Treasury yields yo-yoed in the bond market following the report but later rose modestly. On Monday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury edged up to 4.13% from 4.12% late Friday.

The Federal Reserve’s meeting this week will likely end with no change to interest rates, but traders are split on whether it could begin cutting rates in March. That would be a sharp turnaround from the last two years, when the Fed hiked its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001. It’s trying to slow the economy and hurt investment prices enough through high interest rates to get inflation fully under control.

Traders are betting the Fed will cut interest rates as many as six times this year, according to data from CME Group. That would be double what the Fed itself has indicated.

Critics say that overzealousness may be setting financial markets up for disappointment after their big rallies in recent months.

For now, though, the mood is still mostly ebullient.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 44 cents to $78.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, added 46 cents to $83.41 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar slipped to 148.06 Japanese yen from 148.11 yen. The euro cost $1.0844, down from $1.0846.

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