Stock market today: Asian shares mostly higher after US inflation data ease rate hike worries
Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Thursday after a highly anticipated report showed inflation accelerated across the U.S. in August, but not by much more than expected.
The subdued increase in prices eased worries over the likelihood of another interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve, leading Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 to surge 1.2% to 33,104.79.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.2% to 17,969.38 on renewed concern over China’s property sector. Major real estate developer Country Garden’s Hong Kong-traded shares sank 4.6% ahead of a deadline for a bond repayment.
The Shanghai Composite index was flat, at 3,124.43, while Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.9% to 2,556.60. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.5% to 7,189.70.
On Wednesday, the S&P 500 edged up 0.1% to 4,467.44 after flipping between small gains and losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.2% to 34,575.53, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.3%, to 13,813.59.
The inflation report said U.S. consumers paid prices last month that were 3.7% higher than a year earlier, up from July’s inflation rate of 3.2% and slightly more than the forecasts for a 3.6% increase.
That’s discouraging for shoppers paying higher prices, but much of the acceleration was because of higher fuel costs. Underlying inflation trends indicated a continued moderation in price increases, economists said. Inflation has been generally cooling since peaking above 9% last year.
The inflation report was so highly anticipated because it will help steer what the Federal Reserve does next on interest rates. The Fed has already hiked its main rate to the highest level in more than two decades, which hurts prices for stocks and other investments, and the hope on Wall Street is that inflation has cooled enough for it to be done.
Even though economists are willing to ignore fuel costs when looking at inflation to find the underlying trends, households and companies don’t get the same luxury.
Stocks of airlines were some of the biggest losers in the S&P 500 after a couple warned of the hit to profits they’re taking because of higher costs.
American Airlines cut its forecast for profits during the summer because fuel costs are running higher than it expected. It also had to pay about $230 million in retroactive pay to pilots after they ratified a new labor contract. Its stock fell 5.7%.
Spirit Airlines said it’s also paying higher fuel costs this summer than expected, roughly $3.06 per gallon instead of the $2.80 it had earlier forecast. It’s also been seeing steep discounting to fares during the last few weeks. That pushed it to cut its forecast for revenue during the third quarter, and its stock fell 6.3%.
Other airlines also sank, including declines of 3.8% for United Airlines and 2.8% for Delta Air Lines.
On the winning end of Wall Street were high-growth stocks that could benefit if the Fed stops hiking interest rates. High rates hurt all kinds of investments, but they often most hurt technology companies and others promising big future growth.
Amazon climbed 2.6%, Microsoft gained 1.3%, and Nvidia rose 1.4%.
Moderna rallied 3.2% after it reported encouraging results from a flu vaccine trial.
In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil added 39 cents to $88.91 per gallon in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 32 cents on Wednesday.
Brent crude, the pricing standard for international trading, was up 40 cents at $92.28 per gallon.
The U.S. dollar slipped to 147.09 Japanese yen from 147.47 yen. The euro rose to $1.0748 from $1.0732.
AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.
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