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Asian stocks down after Wall St weekly loss on rate fears


AP Business Writer

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets sank Monday after Wall Street ended with a loss for the week amid anxiety about Federal Reserve plans for more interest rate hikes to cool inflation.

Hong Kong’s benchmark fell more than than 3%. Shanghai, Tokyo and Sydney also retreated. Oil prices declined.

All the major U.S. stock indexes ended with a weekly loss after a Fed official, James Bullard, rattled investors by suggesting the U.S. central bank’s base lending rate might have to be raised to as much as almost double its already elevated level.

“Bullard dimmed the light on rallies,” said Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank in a report.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 3.02% to 17,448.64 after the territory’s leader, John Lee, tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from an Asia-Pacific meeting in Bangkok.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7% to 3,074.26 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.1% to 27,873.19.

The Kospi in South Korea fell 1.3% to 2,413.36 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.1% to 7,143.50.

New Zealand, Bangkok and Indonesia gained while Singapore retreated.

On Friday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.5% to 3,965.34. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.6% to 33,745.69. The Nasdaq composite lost less than 0.1% to 11,146.06.

All the major U.S. indexes ended with a loss for the week after Bullard, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, gave a presentation that indicated the Fed’s benchmark rate might have to rise to between 5% and 7%. That would be up from its current level of 3.75% to 4% following four hikes of 0.75 percentage points, three times the Fed’s usual margin.

Investors worry repeated rate hikes by the Fed and central banks in Asia and Europe this year to cool surging inflation might tip the global economy into recession.

Traders hope signs economic activity is slowing and inflation pressures easing might prompt the Fed to ease off its plans. Fed officials including chair Jerome Powell have warned rates might need to stay high for an extended period to extinguish inflation.

Traders expect the Fed to raise its key rate again at its December meeting but by a smaller margin of 0.5 percentage points.

Big U.S. retailers gained after they reported strong quarterly results and gave investors encouraging financial forecasts. Discount retailer Ross Stores surged 9.9% for the biggest gain among S&P 500 stocks. Shoe seller Foot Locker climbed 8.7% after raising its profit and revenue forecast for the year.

U.S. retail sales rose 1.3% in October in a sign of consumer confidence ahead of Christmas shopping. Still, with inflation high, major retailers say Americans are holding out for sales and refusing to pay full price.

Health care and financial stocks also gained. UnitedHealth Group rose 2.9% and Charles Schwab added 2.5%.

Energy and communications companies declined. Marathon Oil fell 1.6% amid a broad pullback in energy prices. U.S. crude oil settled 1.9% lower. Live Nation, an entertainment promoter and venue operator, slumped 7.8%.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 74 cents to $79.37 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.56 to $80.08 on Friday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, sank 90 cents to $86.72 per barrel in London. It slumped $2.16 to $87.62 the previous session.

The dollar rose to 140.42 yen from Friday’s 140.36 yen. The euro fell to $1.0295 from $1.0331.

Article Topic Follows: AP National

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