Asian stocks are mixed as traders await the Federal Reserve’s interest rate update


BEIJING (AP) – Asian stocks were mixed on Monday as traders looked to the Federal Reserve’s summer conference for clues as to whether the US central bank believes inflation is under control or more rate hikes are needed to calm inflation.

Shanghai and Hong Kong retreated while Tokyo and Seoul advanced. Oil prices rose.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 fell 0.1% on Friday to end the week lower ahead of the Jackson Hole, Wyoming conference. Traders are watching because Fed officials have used the event in the past to signal changes in policy direction.

“There could be rude surprises from the hawks” for investors assuming the end of the rate hikes, Tan Boon Hing of Mizuho Bank said in a report. Chairman Jerome Powell “may hint that structurally higher (and perhaps more volatile) inflation is the new norm.”

The Shanghai Composite lost 0.3% to 3,122.67 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.6% to 31,626.56. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.1% to 17,760.29.

The Kospi Index in Seoul rose 0.6% to 2518.44 while the S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney fell 0.2% to 7137.10.

New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok fell while Singapore rose.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell to 4,369.71 on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1%, to 34,500.66. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.2%, to 13,290.78.

The S&P 500 rose in the first seven months of 2023, but gave up more than a quarter of those gains after critics warned that the market had embraced the idea too early that inflation was under control and that rate hikes were over.

Some investors move money into bonds because higher interest rates make their payments larger and less risky.

Microsoft shares fell 0.1 percent on Friday. Alphabet fell 1.9% and Tesla sank 1.7%.

Technology stocks and other high-growth stocks are seen as some of the biggest losers due to higher rates. Many are down more than 10% from their highs this year.

Data indicating unexpectedly strong US consumer spending and employment has fueled expectations that the Federal Reserve may feel pressure to keep the benchmark lending rate higher for a while longer.

Inflation has fallen from its peak above 9% last year but is still above the Fed’s 2% target. Consumer prices rose 3.2% in July from a year earlier, up from 3% in the previous month.

economists say The final stage of bringing inflation down to the Fed’s target level may prove to be the most difficult.

On Friday, Ross Stores jumped 5%, the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after it reported stronger-than-expected results. Estee Lauder fell 3.3% despite announcing stronger-than-expected earnings and returns. Its earnings forecast for the next fiscal year was lower than Wall Street’s estimates.

In energy markets, US benchmark crude rose 73 cents to $81.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trade, rose 75 cents to $85.55 a barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 145.35 yen from 145.32 yen on Friday. The euro rose to $1.0882 from $1.0878.

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