Asian stocks slide ahead of US inflation update


Asian stock markets sank Monday ahead of a US inflation update that traders worry might lead to more interest rate hikes.

Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul declined. Shanghai advanced. Oil prices declined.

Traders hope Tuesdays inflation data will show upward pressure on U.S. prices is easing, which might encourage the Federal Reserve to ease off efforts to cool business activity and hiring. They worry a strong reading after estimates of 2022 inflation were revised up last week would reinforce plans to keep rates high and possibly increase them.

A strong inflation figure can move through risk assets like a wrecking ball, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report.


The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo sank 1.1 per cent to 27,354.81 while the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.5 per cent to 3,276.39. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.6 per cent to 21,060.77.

The Kospi in Seoul declined 0.9% to 2,447.77 and Sydneys S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.3 per cent to 7,410.30. New Zealand and Singapore retreated while Jakarta gained.

On Friday, Wall Streets benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.2 per cent to 4,090.46. The index ended the week with a loss of 1.1 per cent, its biggest weekly decline since December.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5 per cent to 33,869.27. The Nasdaq fell less than 0.1 per cent to 11,718.12.

Stocks have been rallying since last month on hopes the Fed might start cutting rates as early as late this year. That is despite warnings by Chair Jerome Powell that rates will stay elevated for an extended period until inflation pressures are extinguished.

Other central banks in Europe and Asia also have raised rates to cool inflation.

Wall Street raised its forecast of how high the Fed might raise rates after Powell said last week there is a significant road ahead to get inflation down to its 2 per cent target. He warned against expecting inflation to go away quickly and painlessly.

The U.S. government revised December inflation to 0.1 per cent over the previous month, up from the earlier estimate of a 0.1 per cent decline. The November figure was raised to 0.2 per cent over the previous month from 0.1 per cent.

Traders expect Tuesdays report to say consumer prices rose 0.5 per cent in January over the previous month.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond, or the difference between the market price and the payout at maturity, widened to 3.73 per cent on Friday from 3.66 per cent. The yield on the two-year Treasury ticked up to 4.50 per cent from 4.48 per cent. It was at 4.08 per cent just over a week ago and is near its highest level since November.

Equities analysts have cut forecasts of first-quarter earnings for companies in the S&P 500 by 4.5 per cent due to the impact of inflation and slowing economic activity, according to strategists at Credit Suisse.

News Corp. fell 9.4 per cent after the owner of The Wall Street Journal and other media reported weaker quarterly results than expected. Expedia lost 8.6 per cent after reporting weaker profit and revenue for the latest quarter than expected.

Oil prices fell back following a surge Friday after Russia said it would cut production by 500,000 barrels per day next month. Western countries have imposed an upper limit on how much they will allow customers to pay for Russian crude to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 75 cents to USD 78.97 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose USD 1.66 to USD 79.72 on Friday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, shed 71 cents to USD 85.68 per barrel in London. It gained USD 1.89 on Friday to USD 86.39.

The dollar gained to 131.85 yen from Fridays 131.50 yen. The euro declined to USD 1.0666 from USD 1.0672.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)