NEW YORK – Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Thursday after Wall Street sagged under weakness in tech stocks.
U.S. futures turned higher and oil prices rebounded more than $1 a barrel.
Japan revised upward its GDP data to show the economy contracted less than earlier reported in July-September, in a sign the country weathered its latest big COVID wave with less damage than had been thought.
The Cabinet Office reported Thursday that the economy shrank at a 0.8% annual rate in July-September. That was better than minus 1.2% annual growth reported earlier.
In quarterly terms, the world’s third-largest economy contracted 0.2% instead of 0.3%.
Shares rose in Hong Kong as investors assessed the potential impact of a rollback of many pandemic restrictions on the Chinese mainland.
On Wednesday, rules on isolating people with COVID-19 were eased and virus test requirements were dropped for some public places in a dramatic change to a strategy that had confined millions of people to their homes and sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign.
Experts warned, however, that the “zero-COVID" restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated and the health care system strengthened.
“Specifically, there are three reasons to be restrained, if not circumspect, on China cheer. First, the simple point that the unwind of entrenched zero-COVID policies will take time and perhaps be a bumpy process rather than a linear path to instant gratification," Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 3.5% to 19,475.45, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.1% to 3,197.35.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 sank 0.8% to 7,175.50 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.5% to 2,371.08. Shares also fell in Bangkok, Mumbai and Taiwan.
Wall Street ended a wobbly day of trading with more losses Wednesday, with the S&P 500 down 0.2% in its fifth straight loss. It closed at 3,933.92.
Technology and communication services stocks were the biggest weights on the benchmark index. Apple fell 1.4% and Google parent Alphabet dropped 2.1%.
The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with tech stocks, fell 0.5% to 10,958.55 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed a 1.58 point gain, essentially flat, at 33,597.92.
The Russell 2000 index fell 0.3% to 1,806.90.
Treasury yields fell significantly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, slid to 3.42% from 3.53% late Tuesday. The two-year Treasury yield, which tends to track market expectations of future action by the Federal Reserve, fell to 4.27% from 4.36%.
Investors have been dealing with a relative lack of news ahead of updates on inflation and consumer sentiment later this week, and the Federal Reserve’s meeting next week. Inflation, the Fed’s aggressive interest rate increases and recession worries remain the big concerns for Wall Street.
Investors are watching for data that may yield more insights into inflation’s path ahead and how the Fed will continue fighting high prices.
The U.S. will release data on weekly unemployment claims on Thursday. The jobs market has been a strong area of the otherwise slowing economy and that has made it more difficult for the Fed to tame inflation.
The government will release a report on wholesale prices Friday that will provide more details on how inflation is affecting businesses. The University of Michigan will release a December survey on consumer sentiment on Friday.
Inflation has been easing and economists expect the upcoming data on wholesale and consumer prices to reflect that trend.
The central bank is expected to raise interest rates by a half-percentage point at its meeting next week. It has raised its benchmark rate six times since March, driving it to a range of 3.75% to 4%, the highest in 15 years. Wall Street expects the benchmark rate to reach a peak range of 5% to 5.25% by the middle of 2023.
A growing number of analysts expect the U.S. economy to slip into a recession in 2023, but are unsure of its potential severity and duration.
In other trading, U.S. crude oil prices rose $1.18 to $73.19 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, it fell 3%, settling at $72.01 per gallon, the lowest price this year.
Brent crude oil gained $1.12 to $78.29 per barrel.