Asian markets are mostly higher, but shares are falling in China amid the Alibaba antitrust probe

Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday after shares showed small gains on Wall Street following a mixed set of reports on the economy.

Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney.

Shares fell in Shanghai after China’s market regulator said it had launched an antimonopoly investigation into e-commerce giant Alibaba Group 9988,

+ 0.14%,
intensifying official efforts to tighten control over the country’s fast-growing technology industries.

China is also increasing its control over the practice of buying community groups and convening some of the country’s largest technology companies for discussions as part of the antimonopoly push.

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation also recently convened six companies, including Alibaba and other e-commerce platforms such as JD,
+ 3.23%
and Pinduoduo PDD,
+ 0.88%,
gaming company Tencent 700,
food delivery company Meituan 3690,
and equestrian sharing firm Didi Chuxing to talk about the potential consequences of buying community groups.

Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP,
lost 0.2%. Shares also fell in the smaller market in southern China’s Shenzhen 399106,

Elsewhere, trade on Christmas Eve was optimistic. Tokyo Nikkei 225 Index NIK,
+ 0.54%
gained 0.4% on Thursday and Hang Seng HSI,
+ 0.16%
in Hong Kong rose 0.2% higher. In South Korea, Kospi 180721,
+ 1.70%
jumped 1.3% and Australia’s S & P / ASX 200 XJO,
+ 0.33%
rose 0.4%. Shares advanced in Taiwan Y9999,
+ 0.40%
and Singapore STI,
+ 0.30%.

“While some reorientation of portfolios in New Asia could be expected before the holiday season, the underlying theme is positive,” said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a comment.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 SPX,
+ 0.07%
inched 0.1% up to 3,690.01. The benchmark index set a record high on Thursday and has risen by 14.2% so far this year.

Gains from financial, communications services, energy and other sectors were kept in check by declines elsewhere, including technology companies that helped pull Nasdaq COMP
slightly lower.

An hour before trading began on Wall Street, the government released an avalanche of data on the economy that showed some optimistic signs and more disappointing.

The Department of Labor said fewer U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. The number is still incredibly high compared to before the pandemic, but it was better than economists expected.

Another report said orders for long-lasting goods were strengthened by more than expected last month, a good sign for the country’s producers.

But other reports were more difficult. Consumers withdrew their spending more last month than economists expected. It was the first fall since April and was mainly due to a sharp fall in incomes in November, more than economists had expected.

Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,
+ 0.38%
added 0.4% to 30,129.83.

Stock futures initially fell after President Donald Trump said he may not sign a $ 900 billion bailout for the economy, which Congress approved Monday night.

The hope in the markets had been that the package could possibly tide the economy until widespread vaccinations can help the world begin to return to normal. The legislation includes a one-time payment of $ 600 to most Americans, additional benefits for laid-off workers and other financial support.

Trump said late Tuesday that he wants to see larger cash payments to most Americans, up to $ 2,000 for individuals. He also criticized other parts of the bill.

But stocks eventually drifted upward as investors looked past the unexpected setback.

“Despite the demolition of the Washington DC dam by veto, new votes and overrides, Wall Street clearly believes that something positive will flow to the top of the barrel when the carnage stops,” Halley said.

The yield on the 10-year treasury rose to 0.95% from 0.90% late on Tuesday.

In other trade, US crude CLG21,
+ 0.37%
got 12 cents to $ 48.24 per. barrel of electronic commerce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It got $ 1.10 to $ 48.12 on Wednesday. Burnt raw BRNG21,
+ 0.41%,
the international standard added 14 cents to $ 51.38 per tonne. barrel.

USDJPY Dollars,
+ 0.01%
fell to 103.52 Japanese yen from 103.54 yen late on Wednesday.