Asian markets sink as Fed rate-hike worries grow

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BEIJING — Asian stocks followed Wall Street lower Friday as fears spread that US interest rate hikes to fight inflation might stall economic growth.

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The Shanghai Composite Index SCOMP,
-2.31%
fell 2.3% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI,
-3.57%
plunged 3.6%. The Nikkei 225 NIK,
+0.94%
in Tokyo added 0.6% as trading resumed after a holiday.

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The Kospi 180721,
-1.19%
in Seoul tumbled 1.1% and Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO,
-2.30%
lurched down 2.4%. Benchmark indexes in New Zealand NZ50GR,
-1.09%,
Singapore STI,
-1.28%
and Taiwan Y9999,
-1.72%
also declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index plunged 3.6% on Thursday for its biggest one-day loss in two years as optimization that drove the previous day’s rally evaporated.

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Investors worry about whether the Federal Reserve, which raised its key interest rate by a half percentage point on Wednesday, can cool inflation without tipping the slowing US economy into recession. Traders were temporarily encouraged by chairman Jerome Powell’s comment that the Fed wasn’t considering even bigger increases.

“Clearly, investors had second thoughts about the so-called ‘dovish hike’ from the Fed,” Rob Carnell of ING said in a report. The likelihood is “rate hikes coming thick and fast, but little if any prospect of a turn in inflation any time soon.”

Russia’s war on Ukraine, high oil prices and global supply chain disruptions are adding to investor unease.

Also Thursday, the Bank of England raised its benchmark rate to the highest level in 13 years, its fourth hike since December to cool British inflation that is running at 30-year highs.

The S&P 500 SPX,
-3.56%
fell 3.6% to 4,146.87, giving back Wednesday’s 3% increase.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,
-3.12%
lost 3.1% to 32,997.97. The Nasdaq Comp,
-4.99%,
dominated by tech stocks, slumped 5% to 12,317.69.

The US government was due to report employment numbers on Thursday, a closely watched data point.

Economists at BNP Paribas still expect the Fed to keep hiking the federal funds rate until it reaches a range of 3% to 3.25%, up from zero to 0.25% earlier this year.

Energy markets remain volatile as the conflict in Ukraine continues and demand remains high amid tight supplies of oil. European governments are trying to replace energy supplies from Russia and are considering an embargo. OPEC and allied oil-producing countries decided Thursday to gradually increase the flows of crude they send to the world.

Benchmark US crude CLM22,
+0.60%
gained 77 cents to $109.03 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 45 cents to $108.26 on Thursday. Brent crude BRNN22,
+0.63%,
the price basis for international oil trading, advanced 75 cents to $111.65 per barrel in London.

The dollar USDJPY,
+0.32%
rose to 130.47 yen from Thursday’s 130.40 yen.

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Credit: www.marketwatch.com /

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