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Stock market today: Asia follows Wall Street lower after Fed’s notes dent hopes of rate hikes ending

Aug 15, 2023, 11:00 PM | Updated: Aug 16, 2023, 7:50 pm

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks followed Wall Street lower Thursday after notes from a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting dented hopes interest rate hikes are finished.

Hong Kong and Tokyo lost more than 1%. Shanghai, Seoul and Sydney also retreated. Oil prices declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 lost 0.8% on Wednesday after minutes from the Fed’s latest meeting suggested board members are unsure what to do after raising their key lending rate to a two-decade high. Traders had hoped they would decide inflation was under control and last month’s rate hike was the last.

Fed officials face a “tough balancing act” between “the risk of an inadvertent over-tightening of policy against the cost of an insufficient one,” said Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index sank 0.4% to 3,136.17 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo retreated 1.2% to 31,379.24. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1.6% to 18,018.20 after being down more than 2% in early trading.

The Kospi in Seoul shed 0.9% to 2,502.75 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 declined 0.8% to 7,135.70.

New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets retreated.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell to 4,404.33, adding to the prior day’s 1.2% tumble.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5%, to 34,765.74. The Nasdaq composite dropped 1.1% to 13,474.63.

The bond market is drawing money out of stocks as rising interest rates increased the yield, or the difference between the price and the payout at maturity.

Yields widened further following the release of Fed notes increased expectations of another possible rate hike. When safer bonds are paying higher returns, investors often feel less incentive to buy stocks, whose prices are more volatile.

At a news conference, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday the Fed staff no longer projects a recession by year-end but sees an economic slowdown with risks to growth tilted to the downside and risks to inflation tilted to the upside.

Investor hopes have been supported by unexpectedly strong U.S. hiring and consumer spending.

Critics have warned Wall Street too early embraced the hope inflation was under control and rate hikes to cool economic activity were ended.

Wall Street has retrenched this month on such concerns and expectations interest rates might stay high for longer than expected.

On Wednesday, big technology stocks and other investments seen as particularly vulnerable to higher rates were some of the biggest decliners. Tesla fell 3.2%. Facebook’s parent, Meta Platforms, dropped 2.5%, and Amazon fell 1.9%.

A expectedly strong report on U.S. retailer sales helped trigger the slide by suggesting there still is upward pressure on prices.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.26% from 4.22% late Tuesday. It is once again close to where it was when the 2007-09 Great Recession sent interest rates crashing. The 10-year yield helps set rates for mortgages and other important loans.

The 10-year Treasury Inflation Protected Security, which takes inflation into account, is at its highest level since 2009, according to Tradeweb.

Intel’s stock fell 3.6% after it and Tower Semiconductor agreed to call off Intel’s $5.4 billion buyout of the Israeli chip maker. The deal faced resistance from Chinese regulators.

Agilent Technologies fell 3.4% despite reporting stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. Its forecasts for upcoming results, including revenue for the full year, fell short of expectations. It pointed to a challenging economy, particularly in China.

Target and TJX, the company behind T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, helped to limit the market’s losses. Target rose 3%, and TJX climbed 4.1% after both reported stronger profit for the spring than analysts expected.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude edged up 5 cents to $79.42 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.61 on Wednesday to $79.38. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, gained 9 cents to $83.54. It retreated $1.44 the previous session to $83.45 a barrel.

The dollar gained to 146.38 yen from Wednesday’s 146.24 yen. The euro held steady at $1.0868.

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Stock market today: Asia follows Wall Street lower after Fed’s notes dent hopes of rate hikes ending