Shares are mostly lower in Asia in narrow trading after they barely budged on Wall Street following a mixed batch of earnings reports from big U.S. companies.
Oil prices also declined.
Japan reported that its trade deficit narrowed in March as exports rose more than expected, helped by a nearly 40% increase in the value of vehicle exports. But exports to China fell, reflecting the slow pace of the recovery from pandemic disruptions. Growth in imports also slowed.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% higher to 28,631.53 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was virtually unchanged at 7,366.50.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index slipped 0.1% to 20,341.89. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.3% to 2,567.96 and the Shanghai Composite index declined 0.7% to 3,347.05.
On Wednesday, the S&P 500 inched down by less than 0.1%, to 4,154.42. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2% to 33,897.01, and the Nasdaq composite edged up less than 0.1%, to 12,157.23.
Tesla weighed heavily on the market after the electric-vehicle company cut prices for its two top-selling models, its fourth price cut in the U.S. this year. That could signal that Tesla is trying to spur sales amid shifting U.S. tax credits for electric vehicles. Tesla fell 2% before releasing its latest earnings report after trading closed.
Netflix slumped 3.2% after reporting weaker revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected, though its profit topped forecasts.
Elevance Health dropped 5.3% despite reporting stronger profit and revenue than expected.
So far, most companies have been beating profit forecasts to clear a bar that was set particularly low given the pressure on profits from high inflation and elevated interest rates that are slowing parts of the economy.
Intuitive Surgical leaped 10.9% for one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after delivering stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than expected.
Abbott Laboratories rose 7.8%, Nasdaq Inc. gained 3.1% and United Airlines flew 7.5% higher after they also topped Wall Street’s expectations for profits.
Particular focus has been on the health of banks after higher interest rates helped lead to the second- and third-largest U.S. bank failures in history last month.
The industry’s giants have largely reported better results than expected, with several saying they benefited from the industry’s turmoil as customers moved deposits to them and away from smaller banks that seemed at greater risk.
The fear was how much pain smaller, regional banks would show in their quarterly reports, including how many of their customers fled. Another fear is that smaller and mid-sized banks could curtail lending, clamping the brakes even tighter on the economy. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that several of its 12 regional districts have noticed banks tightening lending standards recently.
Western Alliance Bancorp., a Phoenix-based bank whose stock plunged nearly 64% over a five-day stretch last month, surged after it said deposits stabilized after an initial drop and have been rising in recent weeks. Its stock jumped 24.1%, helping lead most financial stocks higher.
In the bond market, yields climbed after a report showed U.K. inflation remained above 10% for a seventh straight month.
Central banks around the world have been raising rates at a furious pace for more than a year, and the wide expectation is for the Federal Reserve to raise short-term U.S. rates again at its meeting next month. High rates can stifle inflation, but only by slowing the entire economy, raising the risk of a recession and hurting prices for investments.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.59% from 3.58% late Tuesday. The two-year Treasury yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, rose to 4.25% from 4.20%.
In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 83 cents to $78.41 per barrel. It lost $1.66 to $79.24 per barrel on Wednesday.
Brent crude oil, the international standard, lost 79 cents to $82.33 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar rose to 134.78 Japanese yen from 134.72 yen. The euro edged up to $1.0958 from $1.0956.