BANGKOK -- Shares were mixed in Asia on Tuesday, with Chinese markets losing ground, after gains in several big-name tech companies including Apple helped nudge the S&P 500 to another record high.
Tokyo gained nearly 1% while Shanghai lost 0.9% as jitters over tensions between China and the U.S. weigh on sentiment.
Investors are watching for the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s policy setting meeting this week, where decisionmakers will gauge the strength of the economic recovery and whether emerging signs of inflation will be transitory.
The concern is that the Fed could ease up on bond purchases and other stimulus measures as the economy recovers. The Fed delivers its interest rate policy update Wednesday afternoon and no policy changes are expected immediately, but comments on a shift in policy could jostle already skittish markets.
The Fed's meeting is so “spectator worthy," Mizuho Bank said in a commentary, “because the Fed is confronted with a balancing act of walking a tight-rope between transition and tantrums."
The Fed will be obliged to at least acknowledge the recovery and recent 13-year high inflation readings, it said.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.1% to 29,438.39 and the Kospi in Seoul gained 0.2% to 3,256.29. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng lost 0.8% to 28,622.75 while the Shanghai Composite index shed 0.9% to 3,557.33. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 surged 1.1% to 7,389.80.
Shares rose in India and Taiwan but fell in Jakarta and Bangkok.
Aside from geopolitical concerns, investors in Hong Kong and Shanghai were keeping an eye on developments following reports of a possible leak at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province, near Hong Kong.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said data from the Hong Kong Observatory and other departments showed that as of Monday night the radiation levels in the city were normal after the French joint operator of the plant said it was dealing with a “performance issue,” but the plant was operating within safety parameters.
On Monday, the S&P 500 logged its third straight all-time high, gaining 0.2% to 4,255.15. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 0.2%, to 34,393.75. The Nasdaq rose 0.7% to 14,174.14.
Small-company stocks fell. The Russell 2000 index lost 0.4%, to 2,326.15.
A burst of buying in the final 10 minutes of trading sent the benchmark index after another bout of choppy trading.
“Most of this is just positioning in front of the Fed later this week,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at All Star Charts. Investors are “trying to get a sense of not just what the Fed is going to say in terms of announcements, but what they expect in terms of the path of monetary policy and the economy going forward.”
Among tech sector winners Monday were Apple, which rose 2.5%, and Adobe, which gained 2.9%. Several large communications companies also made gains. Facebook rose 1.7% and Netflix gained 2.3%. Those gains offset a broad decline in financial, industrial and materials stocks, among others. JPMorgan dropped 1.7%.
Uncertainty over inflation has been fueling much of the back-and-forth in the market between stocks that are considered safer value holdings versus those with more potential for sharp growth. A boost in demand for goods has helped fuel a rise in the cost of everything from food to cars and household goods. Shipping costs are also rising and adding to the increase in prices.
Lordstown Motors sank 18.8% after its CEO and CFO resigned as problems mount for the startup electric truck maker.
Novavax gave up an early gain, dropping 0.9%. The vaccine maker said its COVID-19 shot was highly effective against the disease and also protected against variants in a large study in the U.S. and Mexico. The company is facing raw-material shortages, though, and plans to seek authorization for the shots by the end of September.
Bond prices fell, sending yields mostly higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.50% from 1.46% late Friday. It was at 1.49% early Tuesday.
“You don’t get a message from the bond market that it’s worried either about persistent inflation or about the Fed doing something dramatic in terms of not being the buyer of bonds that it has been in recent quarters,” Delwiche said.
In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil picked up 22 cents to $71.10 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 3 cents to $70.88 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 22 cents to $73.08 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar was trading at 110.08 Japanese yen, barely changed from 110.07 late Monday. The euro rose to $1.2126 from $1.2120.
AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.