Business

Asian stock markets rebound after Wall St falls from record

Asian stock markets rebounded Wednesday after Wall Street fell on weak retail sales as investors awaited an update from the Federal Reserve on possible plans to reduce U.S. stimulus.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index declined Tuesday from a record high after U.S. retail sales in July were weaker than expected.

Investors watched for the Fed’s release Wednesday of minutes from its July policy meeting for an update on when the central bank might start reducing bond purchases that pump money into the financial system and look at raising interest rates.

Some Fed officials, citing strong hiring growth and rising inflation, say policy normalization should start soon. Others argue the Fed needs to see stronger economic data to be sure a recovery is established.

“Overall, there seems to be an absence of positive catalysts to boost sentiments,” said Yeap Jun Rong of IG in a report. “Market sentiments may thus largely remain on hold, with the upcoming Fed minutes on watch next.”

Also Wednesday, Japan reported July exports were flat.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 3,469.43 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.6% to 27,591.53. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was 0.4% higher at 25,930.80.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.8% to 3,169.01 and Sydney’s S&P-500 added less than 0.1% to 7,532.90. New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok advanced while Jakarta declined.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 lost 0.7% to 4,448.08 for its biggest decline in four weeks amid signs the coronavirus is holding back the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.8% to 35,343.28. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.9% to 14,656.18.

Technology and consumer-oriented stocks declined as concern about the virus’s impact on the economy grew. Health care stocks advanced.

Selling kicked off after the Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales fell at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.1% in July, more than forecasters expected. That followed a poor customer sentiment survey Friday.

Major indexes had been trading at record highs on a mix of confidence from investors and friendly monetary policy from the Federal Reserve. Analysts still expect economic growth, but sentiment is becoming more cautious on the pace.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained 7 cents to $66.66 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 70 cents on Tuesday to $66.59. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, advanced 7 cents to $69.09 per barrel in London. It fell 48 cents the previous session to $69.03 a barrel.

The dollar was little-changed at 109.58 yen. The euro gained to $1.1720 from $1.1711.

(A.P)

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