BEIJING: Stock markets were mixed Tuesday ahead of a U.S. inflation update that traders hope will encourage the Federal Reserve to ease off plans for more interest rate hikes.
Shanghai and Tokyo rose. Hong Kong and Sydney retreated. Oil prices declined.
Traders worry repeated rate hikes by the Fed and other central banks to cool inflation that is at multi-decade highs might tip the world into recession. They hope Thursday’s report on U.S. consumer prices will show inflation moderating, reducing the need to slow economic activity further.
“Traders are bringing back talk of a ‘soft landing,’ which could support risk equities,” said Anderson Alves of ActivTrades in a report. If the data show lower U.S. inflation, “another dovish wave may hit markets,” helped by “easing recession fears.” The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3% to 3,167.06 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.6% to 21,260.84. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.9% to 26,212.28.
The Kospi in Seoul edged up less than 0.1% to 2,350.81 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.2% to 7,135.30.
New Zealand and Bangkok gained while Singapore and Jakarta retreated.
On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 dipped 0.1% to 3,982.09. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.3% to 33,517.65 while the Nasdaq composite gained 0.6% to 10,635.65.
Despite trader optimism, Fed officials say rates will have to stay elevated for an extended period of time to end upward pressure on prices. The Fed’s benchmark lending rate stands at a range of 4.25% to 4.50%, up from close to zero a year ago.
On Monday, a members of the Fed’s policymaking board, Mary Daly and Rafael Bostic, dampened hopes for a rate cut this year. Daly said she expects the benchmark to be raised to over 5%. Bostic said it will be kept there “for a long time.” Forecasters expect Thursday’s report to show inflation slowed to 6.5% in December from November’s 7.1%. That is down from June’s 9.1% peak but well above the Fed’s 2% target.
Warnings are also coming for what look to be lackluster corporate profits when reporting season begins Friday as companies contend with higher labor and other costs.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 37 cents to $74.26 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 86 cents to $74.63 on Monday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, shed 45 cents to $79.20 per barrel in London. It gained $1.08 the previous session to $79.65.
The dollar gained to 131.84 yen from Monday’s 131.56 yen. The euro declined to $1.0728 from $1.0750.