Asian markets mixed as investors wait for U.S. inflation


A currency trader walks by a screen showing the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at a foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday as investors waited for U.S. inflation data that might influence the Federal Reserve’s decision on when to roll back economic stimulus.

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Tokyo and Sydney declined.

Wall Street rose for a third day Wednesday as anxiety about the coronavirus’s omicron variant eased.

Traders were looking ahead to Friday’s report of U.S. consumer inflation in November for indications of whether the Federal Reserve will feel more pressure to cool prices by rolling back stimulus that is boosting stock prices.

Fed officials meet next week for the last time in 2021. They said earlier they were ready to act if needed after inflation hit a 30-year high of 6.2% in October.

“Friday’s inflation reading will undoubtedly be top of mind” for Fed officials, Matt Weller of StoneX Financial said in a report. The headline figure is “expected to rise even further.”

China on Thursday reported inflation in prices paid by factories for components and raw materials eased in November from the previous month’s 25-year high. That is seen by traders as a possible guide to U.S. inflation due to China’s role as a global manufacturing center.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.1% to 3,676.71 after producer price inflation eased to 12.9% over a year earlier from October’s 13.5% as prices of coal and metals fell. That gives the Chinese central bank room to support economic growth with easier credit if necessary.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.3% to 28,779.66 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1% to 24,225.09.

The Kospi in Seoul gained 0.5% to 3,016.10 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX shed 0.2% to 7,394.60.

India’s Sensex opened down 0.2% at 58,515.65. New Zealand and Bangkok declined while Singapore and Jakarta gained.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.3% to 4,701.21. It is up 25.2% for the year. Some 62% of stocks in the index advanced.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1% to 35,754.75. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.6% to 15,786.99.

Markets slipped over the previous two weeks due to concern about inflation and the omicron variant. Stocks steadied after the chief White House medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Monday early signs suggest it might be less dangerous than the earlier delta variant.

Airlines and cruise lines gained in a sign investors believe travel restrictions are less likely.

Norwegian Cruise Line jumped 8.2% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500. United Airlines rose 4.2%.

Apple rose 2.3% while other big tech companies fell. Chipmaker Nvidia dropped 1.9% and rival Intel closed 1.6% lower.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 71 cents to $73.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 31 cents on Wednesday to $72.36. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, gained 62 cents to $76.44 per barrel in London. It rose 38 cents to $75.82 the previous session.

The dollar declined to 113.62 yen from Wednesday’s 113.67 yen. The euro declined to $1.1333 from $1.1349.