Asian shares fall, tracking Wall St dismay over price data

Asian markets have skidded lower after Wall Street fell the most since June 2020 as a report showed inflation has kept a surprisingly strong grip on the U.S. economy

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 14 September 2022 04:45 BST

Asian markets skidded lower on Wednesday after Wall Street fell the most since June 2020 as a report showed inflation has kept a surprisingly strong grip on the U.S. economy.

Most regional benchmarks fell more than 2%, but were holding steady. U.S. futures edged higher, with the contracts for the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 up 0.2%. European futures were lower.

A report Tuesday showed U.S. inflation decelerated only to 8.3% in August, instead of the 8.1% economists expected. That dashed hopes that inflation was falling back to more normal levels after peaking in June at 9.1%, allowing the Federal Reserve to moderate its interest rate hikes.

Tensions between the U.S. and China also were weighing on sentiment. Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to meet later in the week, underscoring the countries' warming ties as the West pushes ahead with sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The meeting Thursday in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on the sidelines of a summit of a security pact dominated by Moscow and Beijing, reflect the strong ties between the former Communist rivals now locked in rivalry with the U.S.

The U.S. is meanwhile reportedly considering new sanctions against Beijing aimed at deterring aggression against Taiwan, a self-governed island democracy that China claims as its own territory.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 2.6% to 18,831.88 and the Shanghai Composite index declined 0.9%, to 3,234.18.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 2.2% to 27,991.82, while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 2.4% to 6,839.50. In Seoul, the Kospi lost 1.5% to 2,414.26.

On Tuesday, the Dow lost more than 1,250 points and the S&P 500 sank 4.3%. Tuesday’s hotter-than-expected report on inflation

The S&P 500 sank 4.3% to 3,932.69. The Dow fell 3.9% to 31,104.97 and the Nasdaq composite closed 5.2% lower, at 11,633.57.

Bond prices also fell sharply, sending their yields higher,

The yield on the two-year Treasury, which tends to track expectations for Fed actions, soared to 3.74% from 3.57% late Monday. The 10-year yield, which helps dictate where mortgages and rates for other loans are heading, rose to 3.42% from 3.36%.

Traders are bracing for the Federal Reserve to ultimately raise interest rates more than expected to combat inflation, with all the risks for the economy that entails.

Most of Wall Street came into the day thinking the Fed would hike its key short-term rate by a hefty three-quarters of a percentage point at its meeting next week and then reduce the size of its rate hikes through the end of this year, potentially holding steady through early 2023.

Traders now see a one-in-three chance the Fed will hike the benchmark rate by a full percentage point next week, quadruple the usual move. No one in the futures market was predicting such a hike a day earlier.

The Fed has already raised its benchmark interest rate four times this year, with the last two increases by three-quarters of a percentage point. The federal funds rate is currently in a range of 2.25% to 2.50%.

Higher rates hurt the economy by making it more expensive to buy a house, a car or anything else usually purchased on credit. Mortgage rates have already hit their highest level since 2008, creating pain for the housing industry. The hope is that the Fed can pull off the tightrope walk of slowing the economy enough to snuff out high inflation, but not so much that it creates a painful recession.

Tuesday's data casts doubt on hopes for such a “soft landing.” Higher rates also hurt prices for stocks, bonds and other investments.

Expectations for a more aggressive Fed have also helped the dollar add to its already strong gains for this year. The dollar has been surging against other currencies in large part because the Fed has been hiking rates faster and by bigger margins than many other central banks.

That's especially true for Japan, where the benchmark rate remains at minus 0.1%. The dollar bought 144.56 Japanese yen, down from 144.57 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to 0.9983 cents, up from 0.9969 cents.

U.S. benchmark crude added 22 cents to $87.53 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 47 cents to $87.31 on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international pricing standard, climbed 15 cents to $93.32 per barrel.

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