Asian shares mixed following Biden speech, Wall St retreat

Asian shares are mixed after a late slide in several Big Tech stocks left major indexes lower on Wall Street

NEW YORK -- Asian shares were mixed on Friday after a late slide in several Big Tech stocks left major indexes lower on Wall Street.

But the hopes are tempered by the reality that Biden may struggle to win support for massive spending, even from some Democrats, analysts say.

“To some extent, most of this optimism had been priced in, but the huge figures had also invited some contemplation as to whether the necessary bipartisan support will materialize for this huge sum," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. “The market appears to be playing it safe," she said.

Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2% to 28,639.05 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.4% to 28,610.09. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 also added 0.4% to 6,731.50. South Korea's Kospi skidded 1.2% to 3,112.45 while the Shanghai Composite index shed 0.2% to 3,560.64.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.4% to 3,795.54. The benchmark index was weighed down by losses in Apple, Microsoft and other huge tech companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.2% to 30,991.52. The Nasdaq composite edged 0.1% lower, to 13,112.64. The indexes are still close to their record highs set last week.

The retreat followed another discouraging report showing how much damage the economy is taking as the pandemic worsens. Last week, 965,000 more U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits as businesses shutter and lay off employees. That’s up sharply from the prior week’s tally of 784,000, and much worse than economists expected.

Several analysts said they expect investors to continue to focus on hopes for a brighter future as temperatures warm and more people get vaccines.

“Further, a bleaker than expected jobs report translates into a greater likelihood for a full-throated stimulus package, which perversely acts as a tailwind for the market,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade Financial.

Smaller companies jumped more than the rest of the market, as they often do when investors are upgrading their expectations for the economy. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 2.1% to 2,155.35.

Airlines, oil producers and cruise-ship operators also clawed back more of their steep losses from last year, when sales for many of them suddenly vanished because of the pandemic.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was 1.11% early Friday, down from 1.13% on Thursday but above its 1.07% level the day before. The 10-year yield was at 0.90% less two weeks ago, before two runoff elections in Georgia gave control of the Senate to Democrats.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 4 cents to $53.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It climbed 66 cents t $53.57 on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard lost 14 cents to $56.28 per barrel.

The dollar slipped to 103.79 Japanese yen from 103.82 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.2152 from $1.2155.

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AP Business writers Stan Choe, Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.