Asian shares mostly higher after mixed day on Wall Street


Stocks were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after a mixed session on Wall Street dominated by speculation the Federal Reserve may tap the brakes again on financial markets and the economy by raising interest rates.

Shares rose in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney, while Shanghai declined. U.S. futures edged higher and oil prices also gained.

Monday was the first U.S. trading day after the release of data showing a stronger than expected jobs market in March, which might keep inflation high. That has reinforced expectations the Fed may hike interest rates again at its next meeting.

In Japan, the new central bank governor indicated late Monday that he expects to keep the country’s ultra-low interest rate policy in place without drastic changes.

Bank of Japan Gov. Kazuo Ueda did say a long-term review of the policy, which is aimed at fostering stronger economic growth by keeping inflation near a target of 2%, might eventually be needed.

“The upshot is that Governor Ueda is not merely making a temporary effort to not rock the policy boat, but is in fact doubling down on the policy course at present,” Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

It noted that “growing risks of a global downturn alongside monetary policy lags means that the BOJ is acutely aware that any distinct tightening now may be caught wrong-footed by a global downturn.”

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index gained 1.1% to 27,923.37.

South Korea’s Kospi advanced 1.3%, to 2,545.73. The Bank of Korea left its policy rate unchanged at 3.5% for a second straight meeting, one of many regional banks that are now slowing or reversing rate increases due to signs of weakness in the global economy.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.3% to 20,385.68, while the S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.3% to 7,311.10. In Mumbai, the Sensex gained 0.3%to 60,051.94.

The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3% to 3,305.19.

On Monday, the S&P 500 edged 0.1% higher to 4,109.11. Big tech stocks fell more than the rest of the market, which helped pull the Nasdaq composite down less than 0.1%, to 12,084.36. It was down as much as 1.4% earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was steadier, rising 0.3% to 33,586.52.

Higher rates tend to hit tech and other high-growth stocks the hardest, and Apple and Microsoft were the two heaviest drags on the S&P 500. Apple fell 1.6%, and Microsoft slipped 0.8.%.

Tesla also dipped 0.3% after paring a sharper, early loss. The company cut prices on its entire U.S. model lineup in an apparent attempt to to entice buyers amid rising interest rates, which make auto loans more expensive.

The Fed has raised interest rates at a furious pace over the last year in hopes of undercutting high inflation. Higher rates can do that, but only by bluntly slowing the entire economy in one fell swoop. That raises the risk of a recession in the future and drags down prices for stocks, bonds and other investments.

The Fed has jacked up rates at every one of its meetings over the past year, forcing them up from near zero at the start of 2022.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government will release its latest monthly update on prices across the economy at the consumer level. Economists expect it to show inflation slowed last month but remains well above the Fed’s target.

Also this week, earnings reporting season will begin for the biggest U.S. companies. Delta Air Lines, JPMorgan Chase and UnitedHealth Group will be among the first S&P 500 companies to tell investors how much profit they made during the first three months of the year.

Expectations are low, and analysts are forecasting the sharpest drop in earnings per share for S&P 500 companies since the pandemic pummeled the economy in the spring of 2020.

In other trading Tuesday, U.S. benchmark crude gained 76 cents to $80.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international pricing standard, added 73 cents to $84.91 per barrel.

The dollar slipped to 133.38 Japanese yen from 133.59 yen. The euro rose to $1.0896 from $1.0864.


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