NATIONAL NEWS

Asian shares moderately higher with focus on inflation data

Apr 10, 2023, 11:23 PM | Updated: Apr 11, 2023, 8:12 pm

People walk near a sign of foreign currency outside a money exchange office at a shopping district ...

People walk near a sign of foreign currency outside a money exchange office at a shopping district in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 11, 2023. Stocks were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after a mixed session on Wall Street dominated by speculation the Federal Reserve may tap the brakes again on financial markets and the economy by raising interest rates. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday, as markets watched for key inflation data likely to influence the Federal Reserve’s stance on interest rates.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.6% in early trading to 28,096.74. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6% to 7,352.10. South Korea’s Kospi edged less than 1 point lower, to 2,547.27.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.7% to 20,345.23 and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.3% to 3,322.39.

“Broader markets remain laser-focused on this week’s critical inflation data as market participants attempt to tease out the state of the economy and the course the Fed might take from here,” Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, said in a report.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 had its smallest one-day move in more than a year, slipping 0.17 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,108.94. Most of the stocks in the index rose, as did the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which gained 0.3% to 33,684.79. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.4% to 12,031.88.

The biggest immediate question for Wall Street has been whether the Federal Reserve will keep hiking interest rates in its attempt to get high inflation under control. It’s already raised rates at a furious pace over the last year, enough to slow some areas of the economy and for strains to appear in the banking system.

Economists expect Wednesday’s report on consumer inflation to show it slowed to 5.2% in March from 6% in February. That’s continued progress since inflation peaked last summer, but still well above the Fed’s target.

A higher reading than expected would likely raise expectations the Fed will raise rates by another quarter of a percentage point at its next meeting in May. Higher rates can undercut inflation, but in slowing the economy they raise the risk of a recession and hurt prices for stocks and other investments.

Bond traders have been jittery over the Fed possibly going too far on rates and then having to cut them as soon as this summer in order to prop up the economy. The stock market has remained more resilient, helped by hopes the Fed could thread the needle and raise rates just enough to stifle inflation without causing a severe downturn.

“While navigating the fickle market narrative isn’t easy, it helps that rates are pricing in a more pessimistic view compared to equities, which are leaning toward a more optimistic outlook,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

Still-high inflation is one of the reasons analysts expect this upcoming earnings reporting season to show the worst drop since the depths of the pandemic in 2020. A bunch of banks will help kick off the earnings reporting season when they tell investors on Friday how much they earned during the first three months of the year.

Investors will get updates on what CEOs say about current and upcoming conditions. One fear is that banks in particular could pull back on their lending following all the turmoil in their sector, caused in part by the past year’s swift leap in interest rates.

If they do cut off lending to businesses, that could further slow the economy and raise the risk of a recession.

CarMax jumped 9.6% after reporting stronger profit than analysts expected for its latest fiscal quarter, which ended Feb. 28.

On the losing end was Moderna, which fell 3.1% after it said its potential flu vaccine needs more study in a late-stage clinical trial.

Big Tech stocks were also weak. They and other high-growth stocks are seen as the most hurt by rising interest rates, and a 2.3% drop for Microsoft was the heaviest drag on the S&P 500.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost 1 cent to $81.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It advanced $1.79 per barrel to $81.53 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 2 cents to $85.63 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 133.83 Japanese yen from 133.70. The euro cost $1.0922, up from $1.0912. ___

AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

National News

Janet Jarrett shows a photo of her sister, Pamela Jarrett, she keeps on her phone at the home they ...

Associated Press

Heat-related Texas deaths climb after Beryl left millions without power for days or longer

SPRING, Texas (AP) — As the temperature soared in the Houston-area home Janet Jarrett shared with her sister after losing electricity in Hurricane Beryl, she did everything she could to keep her 64-year-old sibling cool. But on their fourth day without power, she awoke to hear Pamela Jarrett, who used a wheelchair and relied on […]

6 hours ago

Melissa Shepard, left, directing attorney of Immigrant Defenders Law Center, explains the Biden adm...

Associated Press

Behind Biden’s asylum halt: Migrants must say if they fear deportation, not wait to be asked

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Posters inside a complex of giant, white tents tell migrants in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Hindi they should tell an officer if they fear being deported and “your claim will be heard.” On a side wall where migrants are seated in a processing area, a video conveys the same message on […]

7 hours ago

FILE - People walk past the Fiserv Forum ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, Thursday...

Associated Press

With GOP convention over, Milwaukee weighs the benefits of hosting political rivals

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Downtown Milwaukee turned red last week as thousands of Republican National Convention delegates and other party stalwarts gathered in Wisconsin’s largest Democratic stronghold to formally rally behind Donald Trump as their candidate for president in the pivotal swing state. Outside the security zone where the convention took place, residents grumbled, ignored or […]

7 hours ago

A second-floor balcony at the Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida, on Wednesday, July 17, ...

Associated Press

Ernest Hemingway fans celebrate the author’s 125th birthday in his beloved Key West

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Ernest Hemingway spent the 1930s in Key West, Florida, and more than six decades after his death, fans, scholars and relatives continue to congregate on the island city to celebrate the author’s award-winning novels and adventure-filled life. Hemingway Days started in 1981 with a short-story competition and a look-alike contest. […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Salt Lake City wildfire prompts mandatory evacuations as more than 100 firefighters fight blaze

Salt Lake City officials have ordered residents to evacuate some areas ahead of a wildfire as more than 100 firefighters work to contain the blaze. Helicopters and airplanes were dropping buckets over the flames Saturday as ground crews tried to contain the fire on Ensign Peak. The first fire crew was dispatched around 4:30 p.m. […]

8 hours ago

Democratic Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi speaks at the North Carolina Democratic Unity Dinner fundra...

Associated Press

Pelosi delivers speech to NC Democrats with notable absence — Biden’s future as nominee

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In a state expected to help decide the presidency, House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi did little to quell speculation on President Joe Biden’s path forward as the Democratic nominee to a room full of North Carolina Democrats on Saturday. Pelosi addressed more than 900 people at the North Carolina Democratic Party […]

9 hours ago

Asian shares moderately higher with focus on inflation data