Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher, oil prices fall

BANGKOK (AP) – Asian stocks rose mostly on Thursday after a rally on Wall Street ended a three-day losing streak.

Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai advanced while Seoul retreated. Oil prices fell and US futures rose.

Investors seem to be ignoring new evidence that inflation remains widespread in the US economy in a US government report that rising energy costs pushed wholesale prices to a record 11.2% last month from a year earlier.

This report comes a day after the ministry announced that consumer prices are still at their highest levels in generations.

Rising rates are prompting the Federal Reserve and many other central banks to tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates, among other measures, to help cool the surging demand that is contributing to the problem.

South Korea’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 percentage points to 1.50%. This was the fourth increase since August 2021. The Kospi Index in Seoul fell 0.1% to 2,714.44.

Stocks in Singapore were flat after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) tightened its policy by adjusting currency exchange rates in a more aggressive move than expected. It also raised its inflation forecast for 2022 to 2.5%-3.5% from 2.0%-3.0%.

New Zealand’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 1.3% to 27182.50 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney rose 0.5% to 7,515.60.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4% to 21,448.61 and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.7% to 3,207.85 on reports that China’s central bank may ease policy to counter the blow to its sluggish economy from pandemic-related lockdowns in major cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou.

“In general, there may be some relief with the positive moves on Wall Street, along with indications from the Chinese authorities for further monetary easing. IG’s Jun Rong Yeap said in a comment that China will lower the reserve requirement ratio for banks or use other policy tools.” right on time”.

The US stock and bond markets are facing a shorting week and will be closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 Index rose 1.1% to 4446.59, breaking a 3-day losing streak caused by persistent concerns about inflation and the harsh drugs the Fed plans to use against it.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% to 34564.59 and the Nasdaq rose 2% to 13,643.59.

Small cap stocks outperformed the broader market in a sign of investor confidence in economic growth. The Russell 2000 index rose 1.9% to 2025.10 and is on track for a weekly gain.

Travel-related companies were among the biggest gainers. Delta gained 6.2% after reporting strong first-quarter revenue and strong bookings. American Airlines shares jumped 10.6 percent, while Southwest and United Airlines competitions rose. Cruise line operators Carnival and Royal Caribbean posted solid gains, along with Expedia Group.

Technology shares also rose, while banks slipped after a disappointing earnings report from JPMorgan. It fell 3.2 percent after revealing a sharp decline in profits after reducing assets by about $ 1.5 billion due to high inflation and the Russia-Ukraine war.

Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.68% early Thursday from 2.72% late Tuesday.

Inflation may be at its peak but is likely to continue for a while as cost pressures spread in the markets.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has increased volatility in energy prices because oil supplies were already tight with demand rising as the pandemic waned. US crude oil prices are up nearly 40% this year, driving up gasoline prices and giving inflation an even bigger hit on people’s wallets.

Companies in various industries have raised prices to offset rising costs and maintain or increase their margins.

Online retailer Amazon said it would add a 5% “fuel and inflation surcharge” to fees it charges third-party sellers who use retailer fulfillment services as the company faces rising costs.

Investors will get more details about how businesses and consumers are dealing with inflation as more companies report their latest financial results. Insurer UnitedHealth Group, banks Wells Fargo and Citigroup are due to report earnings Thursday.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department will release its March retail sales report, which will show whether and where consumers are pulling back on spending.

In energy trading, the price of benchmark US crude oil fell 35 cents to $103.89 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $3.65 to $104.25 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international pricing standard for oil, lost 28 cents to $108.50 a barrel.

The US dollar fell to 125.22 yen from 125.63 yen. The euro rose to $1.0906 from $1.0888.

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Associated Press business writer Damien J. Trois contributed in New York.

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