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Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher after U.S. inflation ticked up

Monitoring Desk

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday after U.S. inflation ticked up and Japanese machinery orders fell.

Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney rose. Tokyo was off less than 0.5%.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed 0.3% higher in choppy trading. Tech and consumer stocks gained on optimism the vaccine rollout will allow business activity to return to normal. Johnson & Johnson declined after U.S. regulators suspended use of its single-dose vaccine to investigate possibly dangerous blood clots.

The U.S. government reported consumer prices increased by a stronger-than-expected 0.6% in March, the fastest rate since 2012. Higher inflation normally fuels fears interest rates might be raised to keep prices stable, but the Federal Reserve has said the economy will be allowed to “run hot” to ensure a recovery is in place.

Traders “took the well-telegraphed inflation ‘pick-up’ in stride,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report. Market also are “seemingly unfazed” by the J&J suspension.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2% to 3,401.72 and Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.2% to 28,850.00.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.4% to 29,636.24 after government data showed February machinery orders fell by an unexpectedly wide margin of 8.5% from the previous month, adding to concern about the country’s recovery.

The Kospi in Seoul was up 0.3% at 3,179.85 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.5% to 7,013.40.

Indian markets were closed for a holiday. New Zealand and Jakarta advanced.

Singapore’s benchmark declined after the government reported unexpectedly strong economic growth of 0.2% over a year ago in the three months ending in March. The central bank left monetary policy unchanged.

Investors have been encouraged by the rollout of coronavirus vaccines despite renewed disease outbreaks that have prompted some governments to tighten or reimpose business and trade curbs.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose to 4,141.59. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 33,677.27. The Nasdaq, which has more technology stocks, gained 1.1% to 13,996.10.

Apple rose 2.4% and Microsoft gained 1%. Technology stocks have been boosted by expectations Americans will shift even more to online buying and entertainment following the pandemic.

Johnson & Johnson fell 1.3%. Moderna, which also makes a COVID-19 vaccine, climbed 7.4%.

Worries about the potential loss of a vaccine option also pulled down companies that are counting on pandemic restrictions easing. American Airlines slipped 1.5% and Delta Air Lines fell 1.1%.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell to to 1.62% from Monday’s 1.67%. JPMorgan Chase fell 1.2% and Wells Fargo lost 2.4%.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 45 cents to $60.63 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract advanced 48 cents on Tuesday to close at $60.18. Brent crude, the international price standard, gained 45 cents to $64.12 per barrel in London. It added 39 cents the pervious session to $63.67 a barrel.

The dollar declined to 108.89 yen from Tuesday’s 109.09 yen. The euro rose to $1.1962 from the previous sessions’s $1.1946.

Courtesy: AP News