Asian stocks follow Wall St lower after Fed rates signal

Business

People walk past a bank’s electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. Asian benchmarks mostly slipped Wednesday as technology shares in the region echoed a similar drop in the sector on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower on Thursday after investors saw minutes from a Federal Reserve meeting as a sign the U.S. central bank might hike interest rates faster to cool inflation.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney retreated. Oil prices fell.

On Wednesday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell by its biggest daily margin in four months.

Notes released Thursday from the Fed meeting last month showed policymakers believe the U.S. job market is nearly healthy enough that ultra-low interest rates are no longer needed. Traders took that as a sign the Fed might be more aggressive about rolling back stimulus that is boosting stock prices.

The report “bludgeoned the markets” by upsetting expectations that earlier Fed plans were locked in, said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.7% to 3,571.18 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo tumbled 2.1% to 28,721.49. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.6% to 22,774.93.

The Kospi in Seoul retreated 0.4% to 2,942.54 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 sank 1.5% to 7,449.80. New Zealand and Jakarta declined while Singapore and Bangkok gained.

The Fed indicated in mid-December that plans to wind down stimulus would be accelerated after U.S. consumer inflation hit a 39-year high.

That jolted investors who had been encouraged by stronger corporate profits and the spread of coronavirus vaccinations. Despite that, the S&P 500 ended 2021 with a 26.9% annual gain.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 slid 1.9% on Wednesday to 4,700.58.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.1% to 36,407.11, pulling back from the previous day’s record. The Nasdaq composite tumbled 3.3% to 15,100.17 in its biggest one-day decline in 11 months.

Bond yields, or the difference between the day’s market price and the payout at maturity, widened after the Fed notes came out.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for setting rates on mortgages and other loans, rose to 1.70% from 1.68%.

The Fed minutes showed policymakers expressed concern that inflation was spreading into more areas of the economy and would last longer than expected. They discussed the possible need to raise short-term interest rates at a quicker pace and allow bond purchases that inject money into the financial system to decline sooner.

Four out of five stocks in the S&P 500 fell. Tech companies were the biggest drag on the market. Microsoft fell 3.8% and software maker Adobe shed 7.1%.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 76 cents to $77.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 86 cents to $77.85 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, sank 86 cents to $79.94 per barrel in London. It rose 80 cents the previous session to $80.80.

The dollar declined to 115.93 yen from Wednesday’s 116.16 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1317 from $1.1311.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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