Stock market today: Asian shares mostly higher after Wall Street hits 2023 peak

Asian stocks gained mostly on Monday after Wall Street hit a 20-month high ahead of a week that includes key U.S. inflation data and the Federal Reserve's final interest rate decision of the year.

US futures rose and oil prices rose to recoup some of their steep losses in recent weeks.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng sank 0.8% to 16,208.21 and the Shanghai Composite added 0.7% to 2,990.35.

In China, leaders agreed at an annual planning meeting last week to increase spending to rev up the world's second-largest economy, although no details of the policy changes were provided.

Although the Chinese economy expanded by around 5% this year, in line with government goals, the recovery after the lifting of strict COVID-19 restrictions was short-lived and a slowdown is expected next year. Data released on Saturday showed China's consumer prices in November experienced their sharpest decline in three years, in another sigh of weakness.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 1.5% to 32,791.80 and Seoul's Kospi rose 0.3% to 2,525.01. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was broadly unchanged.

India's Sensex rose 0.1% and the Bangkok SET added 0.2%.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose to its best level in 20 months following a better-than-expected report on the US labor market. It rose 0.4% to 4,604.37, enough to ensure a sixth consecutive week of gains for the index.

This is the longest streak in four years. Wall Street's main measure of health is now just 4% below its record set early last year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% to 36,247.87 and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.4% to 14,403.97.

Yields rose more sharply in the bond market following the report, which said U.S. employers added more jobs last month than economists expected. Workers' wages also rose more than expected and the unemployment rate improved unexpectedly.

The strong data has kept concerns about a possible recession at bay, at least for a while longer, and shares of some companies whose profits are closely tied to the strength of the economy have rebounded. Energy-related stocks had the biggest gain of the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500, rising 1.1% as oil prices strengthened amid hopes of stronger fuel demand.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, fell 1.4% and was the biggest weight on the S&P 500. A day earlier, it had jumped amid excitement over the launch of its latest artificial intelligence offering. Other Big Tech stocks were stronger, with Nvidia, Apple and Microsoft rising.

RH also lost the game. The home furnishings company plunged 14% after reporting results for the latest quarter that were weaker than analysts expected.

The Federal Reserve will announce its next move on interest rates on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the US government will report inflation to the American consumer.

A separate preliminary report on Friday offered more encouragement. He said U.S. consumers' inflation expectations for next year fell to 3.1% from 4.5% the previous month, the lowest level since March 2021. The Fed has said it pays attention to such expectations, for fear that an increase could lead to a vicious cycle. That keeps inflation high.

In the oil market, a barrel of benchmark U.S. oil gained 50 cents to $71.73, although it is still more than $20 below its level in September. It has been falling on concerns that demand from the global economy is not strong enough to absorb all the world's available supplies.

Brent crude, the international standard, rose 55 cents to $76.39 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar rose to 145.53 Japanese yen from 144.93 yen. The euro gained to $1.0768 from $1.0761.

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