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Asian markets mixed as Wall St. retreats from record high

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The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1% to 3,381.22, the Hang Seng dropped 0.9% to 28,628.88, the Nikkei 225 added 0.1% to 29,657.66 and the Kospi advanced 0.2% to 3,188.94

Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday after Wall Street retreated from a record high as major banks reported strong profits at the start of the U.S. earnings season.

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney dropped while Tokyo and Seoul gained.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index finished 0.4% below the previous day’s record due to losses for major tech stocks while smaller companies rallied.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo announced quarterly earnings that beat forecasts. Much of the surge was due to strong trading revenue and expectations for better economic performance, which allowed banks to free up reserves held against the possibility loans might go bad.

The results showed “investment banking and trading are strong and that the party will go on for a couple more quarters,” said Edward Moya of Oanda in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1% to 3,381.22 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 0.9% to 28,628.88.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.1% to 29,657.66 and the Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.2% to 3,188.94.

The S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney rose less than 0.1% at 7,025.90. New Zealand and Jakarta fell while Singapore rose.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell to 4,124.66. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 33,730.89. The Nasdaq composite declined 1% to 13,857.84.

Apple and Amazon dropped, but the majority of stocks in the S&P 500 gained.

Smaller companies rallied on growing optimism as Covid vaccines are rolled out and businesses reopen. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks jumped 0.8%.

Investor expectations are high as other companies prepare to report quarterly profits.

Goldman Sachs climbed 2.3%, but JPMorgan Chase declined 1.9%. Wells Fargo climbed 5.5%, but only after swerving from an early-morning loss.

Also Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said again the U.S. central bank will wait to raise interest rates until the job market has healed and inflation is on track to stay above 2%.

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