Stock market today: Asian shares follow Wall Street gains, Hong Kong stocks near 15-month low

HONG KONG — Shares rose in most Asian markets Monday after Wall Street returned to record heights Friday, while Hong Kong’s benchmark dropped more than 2%, hovering near a 15-month low.

U.S. futures and oil prices climbed.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 1.2% to 36,376.50. The Bank of Japan started a two-day policy meeting on Monday, and was expected to keep its ultra-low interest rates unchanged.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 2.1% to 14,982.50. The index has shrunk more than 10% this year, its worst start to a year since 2016. The Shanghai Composite index was down 0.9% at 2,807.90.

China’s commercial banks kept their loan prime rate unchanged Monday amid downward pressure on the yuan, disappointing investors who anticipated measures to stimulate the economy. Last week, the People’s Bank of China surprised markets by keeping its medium-term lending facility rate unchanged.

In South Korea, the Kospi edged 0.1% higher to 2,476.14. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6% to 7,466.70. In Bangkok, the SET was down 0.8%, while in Taiwan the Taiex gained 0.6%.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rallied 1.2% to its record of 4,839.81. The Dow Jones Industrial Average set its own record a month earlier, and it gained 1.1% to 37,863.80. The Nasdaq composite jumped 1.7% to 15,310.97.

Wall Street’s run-up was driven in part by hopes for rate cuts as U.S. inflation remained tame. Treasury yields have already relaxed significantly on expectations for rate cuts, and that helped the stock market’s rally accelerate sharply in November.

The Fed itself has hinted that rate cuts are coming, though some officials have indicated they may begin later than the market is hoping for.

Friday’s lift for Wall Street came with a big boost from technology stocks, something that’s become typical in its run higher.

Several chip companies rose for a second straight day after heavyweight chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. delivered a better forecast for revenue this year than analysts expected. Broadcom rose 5.9%, and Texas Instruments climbed 4%.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 9 cents to $73.34 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 2 cents to $78.58 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar inched down to 147.91 Japanese yen from 148.14 yen. The euro cost $1.0905, up from $1.0897.

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