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Stock market today: Asian shares are mostly higher after another set of Wall St records

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BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Friday in quiet holiday trading, with markets closed in Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore and India, among other places.

Many financial markets are closed on Friday for Good Friday. In India, markets were closed for the Holi holiday.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to 40,316.56 and the Kospi in Seoul edged 0.1% higher, to 2,748.55. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.5% to 3,025.56.

Taiwan’s Taiex advanced 0.4%. In Bangkok, the SET added 0.3%.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 added 0.1%, to its all-time high set a day before and closed at 5,254.35. It gained 10.2% in the first quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up 0.1% to 39,807.37 and likewise set a record. The Nasdaq composite dipped 0.1% to 16,379.46.

Oil prices jumped. U.S. benchmark crude oil gained $1.82 to $83.17 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, surged $1.59 to $87.00 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 151.30 Japanese yen from 151.38 yen. The euro edged lower, to $1.0775 from $1.0790.

The U.S. stock market has been on a nearly unstoppable run since late October, and the S&P 500 just capped its fifth straight winning month. It has leaped as the U.S. economy has remained remarkably solid despite high interest rates meant to get inflation under control.

And with inflation hopefully still cooling from its peak, the Federal Reserve has indicated it will likely cut interest rates several times later this year.

Most stocks scrambled higher during the quarter, led by a pocket of companies riding Wall Street’s continued frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology. Nvidia, whose chips are powering much of the AI rush, surged 82.5%.

The only stock in the S&P 500 to do better was Super Micro Computer, which just joined the index recently because it’s also been caught up in AI mania. The company, which sells server and storage systems used in AI and other computing, saw its stock soar a staggering 255.3%.

They more than made up for stumbles during the quarter by companies like Tesla and Boeing. Tesla fell 29.3% to continue its volatile run, having more than doubled last year. Boeing, meanwhile, sank 26% as worries mounted about its safety and manufacturing quality.

A report Thursday showed the U.S. economy’s growth in the final three months of last year was stronger than earlier estimated. Another said fewer U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, the latest indication of a solid job market.

The hope on Wall Street is still that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting its main interest rate in June. Lower interest rates ease the pressure on the economy, while boosting prices for investments. But progress on bringing inflation down has become bumpier recently, with reports this year coming in hotter than expected.

Besides interest rates staying higher for longer, critics say other threats could also derail the stock market’s dash higher. Chief among them is that stock prices have climbed faster than corporate profits, leaving them looking expensive by some measures. Companies will need to deliver solid growth in profits to justify the moves.

On Wall Street, RH jumped 17.3% even though the retailer of home furnishings reported weaker profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It also indicated demand is trending upward, and it gave a revenue forecast for the upcoming year that was slightly above analysts’ expectations.

Analysts said investors are ready to pounce on signs of a recovery in the housing market, with interest and mortgage rates expected to come down later this year.

Chemours fell 9.1% despite reporting better results for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It gave a forecast for earnings before taxes and other items in the current quarter that was below analysts’ expectations.

Also on the losing end was Trump Media & Technology Group. The company behind former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social fell 6.4% after soaring more than 14% in each of the past two days. Its stock has shot well beyond what critics say is reasonable for the money-losing company, driven by fans of Trump and investors hoping to cash in on the mania.

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AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

By ELAINE KURTENBACH
AP Business Writer

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