Asian shares mostly higher as investors await US inflation, China economic data

AP , Monday 11 Sep 2023

Stock prices were mostly higher in Asia on Monday as investors awaited U.S. inflation figures and China’s latest economic data.

People walk in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan s Nikkei 225 index at a securities f
People walk in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm on Sept. 5, 2023, in Tokyo. Shares fell Friday, Sept. 8 in Asia after Japan reported its economy grew less than earlier estimated in the last quarter. AP

 

Benchmarks fell in Hong Kong and Tokyo but rose in Shanghai, Sydney and Seoul.

A surge in oil prices has added to worries that inflation may not be waning as hoped in the U.S and other major economies. That could lead the Federal Reserve and other central banks to keep interest rates higher for longer, which would hurt prices for shares and other investments.

Over the weekend, China reported a slight increase in its own inflation data, suggesting deflationary pressures seen as a sign of weakness in its slowing economy might be easing. The government is due to report industrial output for August later in the week.

“We expect inflation to rebound further over the coming months, as policy support drives a modest recovery in China’s economic momentum,” Zichun Huang of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.6% to 3,133.85, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.4% to 17,940.08.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 edged 0.2% lower to 32,544.04, while the Kospi in Seoul was up just 1 point, at 2,548.67.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1% to 7,161.50.

China will report more data this week, while an update on consumer prices is due Wednesday in the U.S. Economists expect it to show prices at the consumer level were 3.6% higher in August than a year earlier.

On Friday, stocks edged higher on Wall Street, but markets still ended their first losing week in the last three.

The S&P 500 ticked up 0.1% to 4,457.49. It lost 1.3% for the week, which was shortened by the Labor Day holiday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2%, to 34,576.59, and the Nasdaq composite added 0.1%, to 13,761.53.

Smith & Wesson Brands jumped 10.8% after the gun maker reported stronger results for the three months through July than analysts expected. The summer is usually a lean season, but its sales rose 35% from a year earlier.

Kroger climbed 3.1% after its results for the latest quarter topped analysts’ expectations, but its revenue fell short of expectations.

The company announced with Albertsons an agreement to sell some stores, private-label brands and other assets as they try to get approval from regulators for their proposed merger. Kroger also announced an agreement where it would pay more than $1.2 billion to settle the majority of claims related to opioids that could be brought against it by states, subdivisions and Native American tribes.

Yields in the bond market held relatively steady, helping to keep Wall Street quiet.

Early Monday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 4.30%, up from 4.2% late Friday. The two-year Treasury yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, rose to 5.001%, from 4.97%.

Inflation has been generally cooling since peaking above 9% last summer, but the worry is the last bit of improvement to get to the Fed’s 2% inflation target may prove the most difficult.

High interest rates are supposed to slow the economy and hurt the job market, which should ultimately help undercut inflation. But the highest rates in more than two decades have yet to do that with great effect. The threat is that could push the Fed to raise rates again and at the very least to keep them high for longer than investors expect.

“The primary driver of this underlying inflation concern has been the relentless surge in oil prices. Adding to this complex mix, the limited U.S. economic data available last week yielded some surprisingly resilient figures,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report.

Early Monday, U.S. benchmark crude was down 49 cents at $87.02 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 64 cents to $87.51 a barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, shed 17 cents to $90.48 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 146.46 Japanese yen from 146.99 yen. The euro rose to $1.0724 from $1.0714.

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