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Tuesday December 7th, 2021 6:42AM

Asian stocks down after Fed says ready to act on inflation

By The Associated Press
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BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets fell Thursday after Federal Reserve officials indicated they were ready to raise interest rates sooner than expected if needed to cool inflation.

Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney declined. Tokyo advanced.

Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index gained 0.2% before markets closed for a U.S. holiday. They reopen Friday for a shortened trading session.

Fed officials at their October policy meeting said they “would not hesitate” to respond to inflation, according to notes released Wednesday. They foresaw the possibility of raising rates “sooner than participants currently anticipated."

That fueled investor fears the Fed and other central banks might feel pressure to withdraw economic stimulus that has been boosting stock prices. Fed officials earlier indicated they might raise rates late next year.

Higher prices combined with stronger U.S. hiring suggest the attitude at the next Fed meeting might be “unabashedly more hawkish,” said Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.3% to 3,581.32 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.7% to 29,500.57. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.2% to 24,633.67.

The Kospi in Seoul retreated 0.5% to 2,979.39 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gave up less than 0.1% to 7,379.30. New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Singapore declined.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 advanced to 4,701.46. Gains in technology, real estate and energy stocks outweighed a slide in banks and materials companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped less than 0.1% to 35,804.38. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.4% to 15,845.23.

The Fed notes showed officials still believe this year's inflation spike is likely to be temporary but acknowledged prices rose more than expected.

The notes covered the October meeting at which Fed board members voted to take the first steps to roll back easy credit and other measures to support an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

A wide range of industries have been hit by inflation pressures and disruptions in supplies of raw materials and components. Forecasters worry consumers might cut spending if retail prices keep rising.

Consumer spending rose 1.3% in October, slightly more than double the previous month's rise, according to the Commerce Department.

The Labor Department reported the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level in more than half a century.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 10 cents to $78.49 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 14 cents to $81.19 per barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 115.37 yen from 115.48 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1219 from $1.1199.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services
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