Asian stocks down after US inflation fuels rate hike fears

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets rose Thursday despite a record-setting U.S. inflation report that pointed to more possible interest rate hikes that investors worry will chill economic growth.

U.S. futures edged lower while oil prices advanced.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.4% on Wednesday after data showed U.S. consumer inflation accelerated to 9.1% in June over a year earlier from May’s 8.6%. That was despite three rate hikes this year by the Federal Reserve.

Investors worry aggressive action by central banks to cool inflation that is at four-decade highs might derail global economic growth.

“Growth fears are hitting the markets harder than inflation concerns,” said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index picked up 0.3% to 3,294.50 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.7% to 26,665.09.

Electronics manufacturer Panasonic Holdings ‘ shares rose 1.1% after the company announced plans for a multibillion-dollar mega-factory to produce electric vehicle batteries for Tesla and other carmakers in the U.S. state of Kansas.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.3% to 20,855.29.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.4% to 6,646.60 after official data showed employment rose more than expected in June.

The Kospi in Seoul edged 0.1% higher to 2,330.74. New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Singapore declined.

Apart from the Federal Reserve, central banks in Britain, South Korea and some other countries also have hiked rates to cool surging prices. The European Central Bank says it has similar plans.

With inflation still untamed, traders expect another Fed rate hike this month, probably matching last month’s 0.75-percentage-point rise, the biggest in 28 years and three times the usual margin.

Fed officials say a recession is possible but not certain. They point to a strong U.S. job market despite higher borrowing costs.

On Wall Street, the S&P fell to 3,801.78. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7% to 30,772.79, and the Nasdaq composite dropped 0.2% to 11,247.58.

Traders are looking ahead to the latest quarterly results from big U.S. companies in the next few weeks.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained 54 cents to $96.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 46 cents to $96.30 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, advanced 67 cents to $100.24 per barrel in London. It added 8 cents the previous session to $99.57 a barrel.

The dollar rose to 138.02 yen from Wednesday’s 137.32 yen. The euro declined to $1.0035 from $1.0062.

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