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Asian Stocks Mixed after Wall St Falls amid Rate Hike Unease





Beijing, 8 Feb (ONA) — Asian stock markets were mixed today after Wall Street fell as investors watched for signs of whether global central banks will try to cool inflation by speeding up the withdrawal of economic stimulus.


Shanghai and Hong Kong declined. Tokyo and Sydney advanced.


In New York, the benchmark S&P 500 index sank yesterday (Monday) on losses for tech and communications companies.


Markets have been uneasy since Federal Reserve officials said in mid-December 2021 plans to withdraw record-low interest rates and other stimulus would be accelerated to cool inflation that is at multi-decade highs.


Investors expect the European Central Bank to adopt a more hawkish policy at its March 2022 meeting for the euro currency used by 17 European Union (EU) countries after its board said last week inflation risks were rising. The European Central Bank president, Christine Lagarde, tried Monday to dampen talk of rate hikes, saying any change “will be very gradual.”


The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1% to 3,393.90 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 1.7% to 24,163.74.


The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 0.3% to 27,340.40 after the government reported labor cash earnings declined 0.2% from a year earlier in December. Core household spending fell 1% from the previous month.


The Kospi in Seoul lost less than 0.1% to 2,742.79 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 1.3% to 7,199.50.


India’s Sensex opened down 0.6% at 57,260.54. New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok rose while Jakarta declined.


On Wall Street, the S&P 500 sank 0.4% to 4,483.87. The benchmark index is now 6.5% below its 3 January high.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average was nearly unchanged, adding 1.39 points to 35,091.13. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.6% to 14,015.67.


Facebook’s parent, Meta, fell 5.1% and Google’s parent company Alphabet fell 2.9%. Microsoft fell 1.6%.


Energy and financial companies made solid gains. Chevron rose 2% and insurer Allstate rose 2.2%.


Traders are trying to figure out how stocks will be affected as the Fed carries out plans to accelerate the withdrawal of stimulus. Investors expect at least four interest rate rises this year, starting next month.


The ECB, which controls the euro currency used by 17 EU countries, is expected to take longer to wind down bond purchases that are meant to push down market interest rates by pumping money into the financial system.


Investors are waiting for U.S. consumer inflation data Thursday, which might influence Fed planning.


Also this week, central banks in India, Thailand and Indonesia hold policy meetings.


In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 7 cents to $91.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract 99 cents to $91.32 on Monday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, shed 18 cents to $92.51 per barrel in London. It declined 58 cents the previous session to $92.69.


The dollar gained to 115.46 yen from Monday’s 115.08 yen. The euro declined to $1.1421 from $1.1442.

— Ends/KH


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