Asian stocks mixed after Fed says ready to act on inflation

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Asian stock markets are mixed after Federal Reserve officials indicated they were ready to raise interest rates as soon as needed to quell inflation.

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Shanghai and Seoul declined while Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.

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Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.2% before markets closed for a US holiday. They reopened for a short trading session on Friday.

Fed officials said at their October policy meeting that they would “not hesitate” to respond to inflation, according to notes released on Wednesday. He foresaw the possibility of raising rates “sooner than participants currently anticipated”.

This has led investors to fear that the Fed and other central banks may feel pressured to roll back the economic stimulus that is driving up stock prices. Fed officials have previously indicated they may raise rates at the end of next year.

Mizuho Bank’s Tan Boon Heung said in a report that higher prices as well as strong US hiring suggest the attitude could be “of course more aggressive” at the next Fed meeting.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.1% to 3,589.18, while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 0.7% to 29,515.72. Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.1% to end at 24,714.83.

The Kospi in Seoul fell 0.4% to 2,981.12 after the Korean central bank raised its policy interest rate by 0.25 percentage points to 1%.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 opened lower 0.1% at 7,403.60 and India’s Sensex opened lower 0.1% at 58,337.48. New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Singapore declined. Bangkok remained unchanged.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 advanced to 4,701.46. Gains in technology, real estate and energy stocks outweighed a slide in banks and materials companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped less than 0.1% to 35,804.38. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4% to 15,845.23.

Fed notes show that officials still believe this year’s inflation is likely to be temporary, but acknowledged prices rose more than expected.

The notes covered the October meeting at which Fed board members voted to take the first steps to roll back easier credit and other measures to support the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

A wide range of industries have been affected by inflationary pressures and disruption in the supply of raw materials and components. Forecasters worry that consumers could cut spending if retail prices continue to rise.

According to the Commerce Department, consumer spending rose 1.3% in October, slightly more than double the previous month’s growth.

The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level in more than half a century.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude fell 9 cents to $78.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used for the price of international oil, rose 2 cents to $81.07 a barrel in London.

The dollar fell from 115.48 yen to 115.37 yen. The euro rose from $1.1199 to $1.1217.

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