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Stock market today: Asian stocks are mixed after Wall Street edges to more records

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Stock market today: Asian stocks are mixed after Wall Street edges to more records
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Stock market today: Asian stocks are mixed after Wall Street edges to more records

2024-06-19 12:41 Last Updated At:12:51

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday after U.S. benchmarks ticked to more records following the latest signs that the U.S. economy may be slowing without falling into recession.

U.S. futures were mixed and oil prices were little changed.

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The New York Stock Exchange is shown on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in New York. Shares are mostly higher in Europe and Asia after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday after U.S. benchmarks ticked to more records following the latest signs that the U.S. economy may be slowing without falling into recession.

FILE - Trader William Lovesick, right works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, June 12, 2024. Shares have opened mixed in Europe on Monday, June 17, 2024, as markets recovered from shocks of recent elections across the region. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE - Trader William Lovesick, right works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, June 12, 2024. Shares have opened mixed in Europe on Monday, June 17, 2024, as markets recovered from shocks of recent elections across the region. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

A person walks in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

A person walks in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

People walk in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

People walk in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

A person stands in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

A person stands in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.2% to 38,575.54 as Japan’s trade data for May showed exports rose 13.5% while imports were up 9.5% from a year earlier, pushed higher by rising prices and the weaker value of the yen against the U.S. dollar.

Minutes from the Bank of Japan's latest policy meeting disclosed a debate among its decision makers over whether the yen's weakness may push inflation still higher. Governor Kazuo Ueda has hinted at raising the benchmark interest rate in coming months, depending on economic data at the time.

“Moves in the Nikkei have reflected much indecision in place, with the index trading in a broad consolidation phase thus far,” IG Asia said in a commentary.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 2% to 18,264.51 while the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3% to 3,020.03 after the head of China’s securities watchdog said at a financial forum in Shanghai that the agency would be enhancing oversight of all financial activities to prevent potential risks.

In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.2% lower to 7,764.30. South Korea’s Kospi surged 1% to 2,792.14.

Elsewhere, Taiwan’s Taiex gained 1.8%, while Bangkok’s SET fell 0.1%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 added 0.3% to 5,487.03, setting an all-time high for the 31st time this year. The Nasdaq composite edged up by less than 0.1% to 17,862.23. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 38,834.86.

Nvidia once again was the star, gaining 3.5% and acting as the strongest force pushing the S&P 500 upward. It lifted its total market value further above $3 trillion, again.

Nvidia’s chips are helping to develop AI, which proponents expect to change the world as much or more than the internet, and demand for its chips has proven to be shockingly voracious. Nvidia’s revenue routinely triples every quarter, and its profit is rocketing at even more breathtaking rates. Its stock is up nearly 174% this year, and Nvidia alone was responsible for nearly a third of the S&P 500’s entire gain for the year through May.

Of course, a potential danger of having a handful of superstars responsible for most of the U.S. stock market’s run to records is a more fragile market. If more stocks were participating, it could be a signal of a healthier market.

The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 0.1% in May, below the pace that economists projected, while April sales were revised downward — a 0.2% decline, from unchanged. Sales rose 0.6% in March and 0.9% in February. That comes after sales fell 1.1% in January, dragged down in part by inclement weather.

The weaker-than-expected data could be a warning signal that the main engine of the U.S. economy, spending by households, is cracking. Inflation is still high, even if it’s slowed since its peak, and lower-income households in particular are struggling to keep up with the more expensive prices.

Still, a survey of global fund managers by Bank of America showed they’re the most optimistic about stocks since the autumn of 2021, with relatively little hiding out in cash and allocations heavy to stocks. Fewer managers are also calling for a “hard landing” where the economy tumbles into a bad recession.

In other dealings early Wednesday, U.S. benchmark crude oil was unchanged at $80.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude rose 2 cents to $85.35 per barrel.

The dollar rose to 157.87 Japanese yen from 156.87 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0737 from $1.0740.

AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

The New York Stock Exchange is shown on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in New York. Shares are mostly higher in Europe and Asia after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

The New York Stock Exchange is shown on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in New York. Shares are mostly higher in Europe and Asia after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

FILE - Trader William Lovesick, right works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, June 12, 2024. Shares have opened mixed in Europe on Monday, June 17, 2024, as markets recovered from shocks of recent elections across the region. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE - Trader William Lovesick, right works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, June 12, 2024. Shares have opened mixed in Europe on Monday, June 17, 2024, as markets recovered from shocks of recent elections across the region. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

A person walks in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

A person walks in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

People walk in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

People walk in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

A person stands in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

A person stands in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Tokyo. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after U.S. stocks rallied to more records, with gains for technology companies pushing the benchmarks higher. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Treason cases were rare in Russia 30 years ago, with only a handful brought annually. In the past decade and especially since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, however, the number has soared, along with espionage prosecutions.

They are ensnaring citizens and foreigners alike. Recent victims range from Kremlin critics and independent journalists to veteran scientists working with countries that Moscow considers friendly.

One rights group counted over 100 known treason cases in 2023, with probably another 100 that nobody knows about.

The prosecutions have raised comparisons to the show trials and purges under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the 1930s.

They are usually held in strict isolation in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison, their trials are held behind closed doors and almost always result in convictions and long prison terms. They are investigated almost exclusively by the powerful Federal Security Service, or FSB, with specific charges and evidence shrouded in secrecy.

These cases stand apart from the unprecedented crackdown on dissent under President Vladimir Putin, who in 2022 urged security services to “harshly suppress the actions of foreign intelligence services (and) promptly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs.”

Some key takeaways of this trend of prosecuting high crimes:

Mass anti-government protests erupted in Moscow in 2011-12, with officials blaming the West. The legal definition of treason was then expanded to include providing vaguely defined “assistance” to foreign countries or organizations, effectively exposing to prosecution anyone in contact with foreigners.

The changes to the law were heavily criticized by rights advocates, including the Presidential Human Rights Council. Putin later agreed with council members that “there shouldn’t be any broad interpretation of what high treason is.”

But that broad interpretation was exactly what the authorities began applying — especially after 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in the eastern part of the country, and fell out with the West for the first time since the Cold War.

Svetlana Davydova, a mother of seven in the western region of Smolensk, contacted Ukraine’s Embassy in Moscow in 2014, saying she thought Russian troops from a nearby base were heading to eastern Ukraine. She was arrested in 2015 on treason charges under the law's expanded definition.

The case drew national attention and outrage. Russia at the time denied its troops were involved in eastern Ukraine, and the case against Davydova directly contradicted that narrative. The charges against her were eventually dropped in what turned out to be a rare exception to the increasing cases that in subsequent years consistently ended in convictions and prison terms.

Prosecution targets included journalists writing about Russia's military, as well as eminent scientists in fields that could have applications in weapons development. Professional groups say the scientists are punished for publishing articles in journals and participating in international projects that usually are part of their normal work.

Among them:

— Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the Roscosmos space agency and a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason in 2022 and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He denied the charges, and his prosecution was widely seen as retaliation for his reporting on the military.

— Physicist Dmitry Kolker was arrested on treason charges in Novosibirsk in 2022, taken by the FSB from a hospital while suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer. Kolker, 54, had studied light waves and gave several approved lectures in China. He “wasn't revealing anything (secret) in them,” said his son, Maksim. Shortly after the scientist was taken to Lefortovo Prison, the family was told he had died in a hospital.

— Valery Golubkin, a physicist specializing in aerodynamics who is now 71, was arrested in 2021 and convicted of treason in 2023. His state-run research institute was working on an international project of a hypersonic civilian aircraft, and he was asked by his employer to help with reports on the project. His 12-year sentence was upheld despite appeals, and his family now can only hope for his release on parole.

— Physicist Anatoly Maslov, 77, who was working on hypersonics, was convicted of treason in May and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Treason or espionage cases involving writers, journalists and others:

— Vladimir Kara-Murza, an opposition politician, was charged with treason in 2022 after giving speeches in the West that were critical of Russia. After surviving what he believed were attempts to poison him in 2015 and 2017, Kara-Murza was convicted last year and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

— The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich was arrested in 2023 on espionage charges, the first American reporter so accused since the Cold War. Gershkovich, whose trial began in June, denies the charges, and the U.S. government has declared him wrongfully detained.

— Ksenia Khavana, 33, was arrested on treason charges in Yekaterinburg in February, accused of collecting money for Ukraine’s military. The dual Russian-U.S. citizen had returned from Los Angeles to visit relatives, and the charges reportedly stem from a $51 donation to a United States-based charity that helps Ukraine.

— Paul Whelan, a U.S. corporate security executive who traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding, was arrested in 2018 and convicted of espionage two years later, and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He denies the charges.

Some cases involving scientists can probably be traced to a Putin speech in 2018, when he touted Russia's hypersonic weapons program. The security services may want to show the Kremlin that Russia's scientific advances are so impressive that foreign powers want to go after them, lawyer Evgeny Smirnov says.

If a security service wants to authorize surveillance or a wiretap on a subject, it's far easier to get authorities to approve such measures if it's for a treason case, said Andrei Soldatov, a journalist and expert on the FSB.

Smirnov says the rise in prosecutions came after the FSB allowed its regional branches in 2022 to pursue certain kinds of treason cases, and officials in those areas sought to curry favor with their superiors to advance their careers.

Above all, Soldatov said, is the FSB’s genuine belief of “the fragility of the regime” at a time of a political turmoil — either from mass protests, as in 2011-12, or now amid the war in Ukraine.

“They sincerely believe (the regime) can break,” even if it’s really not the case, he said.

FILE - Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, listens to a verdict that found him guilty of espionage in Moscow, Russia, on June 15, 2020. Whelan, a U.S. corporate security executive who traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding, was arrested in 2018. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison and denies the charges. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP, File)

FILE - Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, listens to a verdict that found him guilty of espionage in Moscow, Russia, on June 15, 2020. Whelan, a U.S. corporate security executive who traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding, was arrested in 2018. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison and denies the charges. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP, File)

FILE - Ksenia Karelina, also known by the last name of Khavana, sits in a defendant’s cage in a court in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Thursday, June 20, 2024. The dual Russian-U.S. citizen was arrested on treason charges in Yekaterinburg in February after returning from Los Angeles to visit relatives, and the charges reportedly stem from her $51 donation to a U.S. charity that helps Ukraine. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Ksenia Karelina, also known by the last name of Khavana, sits in a defendant’s cage in a court in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Thursday, June 20, 2024. The dual Russian-U.S. citizen was arrested on treason charges in Yekaterinburg in February after returning from Los Angeles to visit relatives, and the charges reportedly stem from her $51 donation to a U.S. charity that helps Ukraine. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted from court after a pre-trial hearing in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges during a reporting trip to the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. He, his employer and the U.S. government have vehemently denied the charges, and Washington has declared him wrongfully detained. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted from court after a pre-trial hearing in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges during a reporting trip to the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. He, his employer and the U.S. government have vehemently denied the charges, and Washington has declared him wrongfully detained. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE - Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is escorted to a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 8, 2023. Kara-Murza, an opposition politician, was charged with treason in 2022 after giving speeches in the West that were critical of Russia. He rejected the charges as politically motivated. He was convicted last year and given a 25-year prison term, the harshest sentence handed to a Kremlin critic in post-Soviet Russia. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is escorted to a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 8, 2023. Kara-Murza, an opposition politician, was charged with treason in 2022 after giving speeches in the West that were critical of Russia. He rejected the charges as politically motivated. He was convicted last year and given a 25-year prison term, the harshest sentence handed to a Kremlin critic in post-Soviet Russia. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - In this photo released by the Moscow City Court Press Service, Valery Golubkin, a physicist specializing in aerodynamics, stands in a defendant’s cage in a court in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, June 26, 2023. Golubkin, 71, was arrested in 2021 and convicted of treason in 2023 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing state secrets abroad, but he and his lawyers insisted he merely submitted research reports on an international project that didn’t contain any state secrets and were cleared for submission. (Moscow City Court Press Service via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo released by the Moscow City Court Press Service, Valery Golubkin, a physicist specializing in aerodynamics, stands in a defendant’s cage in a court in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, June 26, 2023. Golubkin, 71, was arrested in 2021 and convicted of treason in 2023 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing state secrets abroad, but he and his lawyers insisted he merely submitted research reports on an international project that didn’t contain any state secrets and were cleared for submission. (Moscow City Court Press Service via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo taken from video provided by the Moscow City Court, Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's space agency, right, stands in court prior to a hearing in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing military secrets to Czech intelligence and a German national, which he denied. The case has been widely viewed as retaliation for his reporting. (Moscow City Court via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo taken from video provided by the Moscow City Court, Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's space agency, right, stands in court prior to a hearing in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing military secrets to Czech intelligence and a German national, which he denied. The case has been widely viewed as retaliation for his reporting. (Moscow City Court via AP, File)

FILE - Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's space agency, stands in a defendant’s cage in a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, on July 16, 2020. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing military secrets to Czech intelligence and a German national, which he denied. The case has been widely viewed as retaliation for his reporting. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's space agency, stands in a defendant’s cage in a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, on July 16, 2020. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing military secrets to Czech intelligence and a German national, which he denied. The case has been widely viewed as retaliation for his reporting. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Svetlana Davydova, a mother of seven who lives in the city of Vyazma in western Russia and was arrested in 2015 on treason charges and later released, arrives at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, March 13, 2015. Davydova was arrested after she contacted Ukraine's Embassy in Moscow in 2014, saying she thought Russian troops from a nearby base were heading to eastern Ukraine, where a separatist insurgency was unfolding. Russia at the time denied its troops involvement in eastern Ukraine, and the charges against Davydova were eventually dropped. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Svetlana Davydova, a mother of seven who lives in the city of Vyazma in western Russia and was arrested in 2015 on treason charges and later released, arrives at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, March 13, 2015. Davydova was arrested after she contacted Ukraine's Embassy in Moscow in 2014, saying she thought Russian troops from a nearby base were heading to eastern Ukraine, where a separatist insurgency was unfolding. Russia at the time denied its troops involvement in eastern Ukraine, and the charges against Davydova were eventually dropped. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with the leadership of military-industrial complex enterprises in Tula, Russia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022. Treason cases were rare in Russia 30 years ago, with only a handful brought annually. In the last decade and especially since the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine, however, the number has soared, along with espionage prosecutions. Putin in 2022 urged security services to "harshly suppress the actions of foreign intelligence services (and) promptly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs." (Russian Presidential Press Office, Sputnik Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with the leadership of military-industrial complex enterprises in Tula, Russia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022. Treason cases were rare in Russia 30 years ago, with only a handful brought annually. In the last decade and especially since the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine, however, the number has soared, along with espionage prosecutions. Putin in 2022 urged security services to "harshly suppress the actions of foreign intelligence services (and) promptly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs." (Russian Presidential Press Office, Sputnik Pool Photo via AP, File)

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