Asian markets rise despite rate-hike fears over US inflation

BEIJING — Asian stock markets rose Thursday despite a record-setting US inflation report that pointed to more possible interest rate hikes that investors worry will chill economic growth.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 JP:NIK
gained 0.7%. Electronics manufacturer Panasonic Holdings’ shares JP:6752
rose 1.1% after the company announced plans for a multibillion-dollar mega-factory to produce electric vehicle batteries for Tesla TSLA
and other carmakers in the US state of Kansas.

The Hang Seng HK:HSI
in Hong Kong advanced 0.3% and the Shanghai Composite Index CN:SHCOMP
picked up 0.3%.

Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 AU:XJO
added 0.6% after official data showed employment rose more than expected in June.

The Kospi KR:180721
in Seoul was about flat. Benchmark indexes in New Zealand NZ:NZ50GR,
Taiwan TW: Y9999
and Indonesia ID:JAKIDX
advanced while Singapore SG:STI
declined.

US futures ES00

YM00
edged lower while oil prices advanced.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.4% on Wednesday after data showed US consumer inflation accelerated to 9.1% in June over a year earlier from May’s 8.6%. That was despite three rate hikes this year by the Federal Reserve.

Investors worry aggressive action by central banks to cool inflation that is at four-decade highs might derail global economic growth.

“Growth fears are hitting the markets harder than concerns,” said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management in a report.

Apart from the Federal Reserve, central banks in Britain, South Korea and some other countries also have hiked rates to cool surging prices. The European Central Bank says it has similar plans.

With inflation still untamed, traders expect another Fed rate hike this month, probably matching last month’s 0.75-percentage-point rise, the biggest in 28 years and three times the usual margin.

Fed officials say a recession is possible but not certain. They point to a strong US job market despite higher borrowing costs.

On Wall Street, the S&P SPX
fell to 3,801.78. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA
fell 0.7% to 30,772.79, and the Nasdaq composite COMP
dropped 0.2% to 11,247.58.

Traders are looking ahead to the latest quarterly results from big US companies in the next few weeks.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude CLQ22
gained 54 cents to $96.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 46 cents to $96.30 on Wednesday. Brent crude BRNU22,
the price basis for international oil trading, advanced 67 cents to $100.24 per barrel in London. It added 8 cents the previous session to $99.57 a barrel.

The dollar USDJPY
rose to 138.02 yen from Wednesday’s 137.32 yen.

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