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Asian stocks mixed after US job gain paves way for interest rate hike

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Asian stocks were mixed on Monday after strong US jobs data cleared the way for more interest rate hikes and China reported its exports rose by double digits.

Shanghai and Tokyo advanced while Hong Kong and Seoul retreated. Oil prices edged higher.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 lost 0.2 per cent on Friday after government data showed American employers added more jobs than expected in June. That undercut expectations a slowing economy might prompt the Fed to postpone or scale back plans for more rate hikes to cool inflation.

Now it seems they will be debating whether they need to be even more aggressive, Edward Moya of Oanda said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index shed less than 0.1 per cent to 3,226.04 after China’s July exports rose 18 per cent, beating forecasts. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.7 per cent to 20,055.39 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.2 per cent to 28,241.09.

The Kospi in Seoul declined 0.3 per cent to 2,482.32 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.1 per cent to 7,005.40.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 declined to 4,145.19 on Friday while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2% to 32,803.47. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.5 per cent at 12,657.55.

Investors worry that tighter policy from the Fed and central banks in Europe and Asia to cool inflation that is running at multi-decade highs might derail global economic growth.

Markets also have been rattled by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which has caused prices of oil, wheat and other commodities to spike and by uncertainty about the impact of Chinese anti-virus curbs that have disrupted manufacturing and shipping.

China’s exports in July surged 18 per cent compared with a year earlier while imports rose just 2.3 per cent, reflecting weak global demand, customs data showed Sunday. The country’s global trade surplus swelled to a record USD 101 billion.

Last week’s strong US employment data gave ammunition to Fed officials who say the economy can tolerate higher borrowing costs to cool inflation. After Friday’s announcement, traders expect the Fed to raise its benchmark rate by 0.75 percentage points next month, up from forecasts of half a point. That would be triple the usual margin and the third such outsize hike this year.

Higher interest rates are meant to dampen inflation by cooling business activity, but that also raises the risk of recession and job losses. The latest inflation spike is unusual because forecasters blame shortages of goods due to the coronavirus pandemic, rather than rapid economic growth.

Wall Street is coming off the best month for stocks since late 2020, a rally driven mostly by what had been falling bond yields. Traders hoped the economy was slowing enough for the Fed to ease off.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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