Stock market today: Asian shares mostly rise, boosted by Wall Street records as Tesla zooms

TOKYO — Asian shares were mostly higher on Wednesday after Tesla shares zoomed up more than 10%, helping to drive U.S. benchmarks to new records.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.3% to finish at 40,580.76. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained nearly 0.3% to 7,739.90. South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.5% to 2,794.71. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.1% to 17,956.55, while the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.4% to 2,982.38.

Asian investors were cheered by hopes for an interest rate cut in the U.S. But some traders were keeping to the sidelines ahead of Thursday’s Independence Day holiday in the U.S.

“On the radar is the Japan’s Nikkei, which may extend its run above the 40,000 level, with overnight strength in tech while the Japanese yen continues to trade at a 38-year low,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market analyst at IG.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 161.80 Japanese yen from 161.44 yen. The euro cost $1.0752, little changed from $1.0743. Among Tokyo technology-related shares, Kyocera Corp. jumped 3.1% while Murata Manufacturing Co. surged 6.4%.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 added 0.6% to 5,509.01, topping its all-time high set two weeks ago. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% to 39,331.85, and the Nasdaq composite added 0.8% to 18,028.76, besting its own record set a day earlier.

Tesla led the way with a 10.2% jump after the electric-vehicle maker reported a milder drop in sales for the spring than analysts expected. Modest gains for other big, influential stocks also helped lift the market, including a 1.6% climb for Apple.

Stocks got a lift from easing Treasury yields after the head of the Federal Reserve made comments that investors took as a signal for possible cuts to interest rates later this year. Fed Chair Jerome Powell gave a nod to improvements in inflation data after some disappointingly high readings early in the year.

“We just want to understand that the levels that we’re seeing are a true reading of underlying inflation,” he said during a panel discussion at the European Central Bank’s monetary policy conference in Sintra, Portugal.

Investors hope inflation will slow enough to convince the Fed to lower its main interest rate, which has been sitting at its highest level in more than two decades and pressing the brakes on the economy.

Keeping Wall Street’s gains in check was Nvidia, which has been one of this year’s brightest stars. It fell 1.3%, though it’s still up nearly 147.7% for the year so far.

Eli Lilly fell 0.8%, and U.S.-listed shares of Novo Nordisk dropped 1.7% after President Biden criticized in an opinion piece for USA Today how much the companies are charging for their drugs for weight loss and diabetes.

The week’s most anticipated economic data will arrive on Friday, when the U.S. government reports the total jobs employers added in June. Before then, the U.S. stock market will have a shortened trading day on Wednesday and Thursday’s Fourth of July holiday.

Treasury yields have been feeling some upward pressure recently because of politics. Last week’s debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump pushed traders to make moves in anticipation of a possible Republican sweep in November. That included sending Treasury yields higher, in part because of the possibility for policies that would further raise the U.S. government’s debt.

The 10-year yield is still well above its 4.29% level from late Thursday, before the debate.

In commodities markets, the price of benchmark U.S. oil ended up slipping modestly after touching its highest price since April. Crude prices have largely been rising on expectations for strong demand during the summer, as well as the possibility of hurricanes damaging oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Beryl is roaring through the Caribbean.

U.S. benchmark crude added 33 cents to $83.14 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 38 cents to $86.62 a barrel.

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