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Stock market today: Asian shares trade higher after Wall St rally takes S&P 500 near record

TOKYO — Stocks in Asia traded higher Friday after a rally on Wall Street that pulled the S&P 500 back within 1% of its record.

Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney and China, where investors were focused on the release of April inflation figures.

In Japan, the Finance Ministry reported a record current account surplus for the fiscal year through March, as strong auto exports whittled down its trade deficit and the nation racked up solid returns on overseas investments. However, weak consumer spending undermined that positive data.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to 38,229.11, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5% to 7,761.90. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8% to 2,733.06.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 2.1% to 18,918.54, while the Shanghai Composite edged 0.2% higher, to 3,160.61.

Price data expected Saturday are being watched to see if the economy might be regaining momentum.

“Despite efforts, China has grappled with consumer deflation for about a year, presenting a formidable challenge that Beijing has yet to overcome,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 5,214.08. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8% to 39,387.76, and the Nasdaq composite added 0.3%, to 16,346.26.

A report showing a pickup in layoffs helped to support the market. The number of workers applying for unemployment benefits rose by more last week than economists expected, though it remains relatively low compared with history.

That could be a sign the economy can pull off a hoped-for balancing act of staying solid enough to avoid a bad recession, but not so strong that it puts upward pressure on inflation.

Equinix jumped 11.5% after reporting stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. The company, which runs data centers around the world, also said an independent investigation led by its board found no accounting inconsistencies or errors that would require financial restatements. Earlier, an investment firm had accused it of “major accounting manipulation.”

Yeti Holdings rose 12.8% after reporting better profit for the latest quarter than expected thanks to stronger sales for its drinkware and coolers and equipment.

Cheesecake Factory gained 6.2% after topping expectations for profit. The results were encouraging following some recent warnings by big food and drink companies about how much pressure their customers, particularly lower-income ones, are feeling.

Airbnb sank 6.9% despite topping expectations for profit and revenue. It gave a forecasted range for revenue in the current quarter whose midpoint fell short of what analysts expected. It said an earlier Easter pulled more of its business this year into the first quarter from the second quarter.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury eased to 4.45% from 4.50% late Wednesday. The two-year yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, slipped to 4.81% from 4.84% late Wednesday.

A smooth auction of 30-year Treasury bonds helped to keep yields stable.

Treasury yields have largely been easing since Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week that the central bank remains closer to cutting its main interest rate than hiking it, despite a string of stubbornly high readings on inflation this year. A cooler-than-expected jobs report on Friday, meanwhile, suggested the U.S. economy could manage to avoid being either too hot or too cold.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 60 cents to $79.86 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, added 54 cents to $84.42 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 155.53 Japanese yen from 155.50 yen.

The weak yen has been both a blessing and a worry for Japan, as it helps boost export earnings but chips away at purchasing power. Expectations are growing for the Bank of Japan to start raising interest rates, although how much exactly and when remain unclear. The U.S. dollar was trading at 130 yen levels a year ago.

The euro fell to $1.0776 from $1.0782.

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