Most Asian stock indexes fell Thursday, tracking Wall Street’s decline after the latest Fed report rekindled fears about inflation and rising bond yields.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index sank 1.1 percent to 21,736.44 and South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.6 percent to 2,414.28. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.9 percent to 31,138.06 but the Shanghai Composite jumped 2.0 percent to 3,262.03, fueled by pent-up demand from investors in mainland China, where markets reopened after a weeklong holiday. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 edged up 0.1 percent to 5,950.90. Taiwan’s benchmark fell and Southeast Asian indexes were mostly lower.
The Federal Reserve’s minutes from its most recent policy meeting indicated bullish sentiment among policymakers about the outlook for U.S. and global economic growth, reinforcing expectations for further interest rate rises this year. Wall Street initially welcomed the report but soon enough U.S. Treasury yields spiked to their highest level in four years, snuffing out the market rally in a sign of renewed worries about rising inflation. Higher yields hurt stock prices by making bonds more attractive than equities.
“The Fed minutes for the January meeting seem to have set off another [so far] minor explosion in markets,” Michael Every, Asia strategist at Rabobank, said in a commentary.
Major U.S. benchmarks ended lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.5 percent to 2,701.33. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.7 percent to 24,797.78. The Nasdaq gave up 0.2 percent to 7,218.23.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 52 cents to $61.16 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 11 cents to settle at $61.68 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 39 cents to $65.03 per barrel in London.
The dollar weakened to 107.42 yen from 107.77 yen in late trading Wednesday. The euro slipped to $1.2275 from $1.2284.