Stock Market Today: Most Asian stocks fell ahead of the key US inflation report

BANGKOK (AP) — Stocks fell Thursday in most Asian markets ahead of a key U.S. inflation report scheduled for Friday that could point the way for interest rates.

Indices fell by more than 1% in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney. Oil prices and US futures also fell.

Markets are largely focused this week on the US government’s inflation report due on Friday. The Personal Consumption Expenditures Index, or PCE, is… Federal Reserve It is the preferred measure of inflation, and analysts said investors were in wait-and-see mode after the recent mixed data.

The latest updates on inflation could influence the central bank’s decision on when to start cutting interest rates, which remain at their highest levels in more than 20 years and are having an impact around the world.

In Asian trading, another set of measures to boost China’s real estate market failed to lift market sentiment. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.9% to 17,746.53 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5%.

The latest step was taken by Beijing, one of China’s largest cities, when the Chinese capital reduced minimum down payment rates and mortgage interest rates, starting Thursday.

Markets are moving away from recent records, AP’s Seth Sottile reports.

Other Chinese cities have taken similar measures in line with national policies aimed at attracting buyers back to a market that has weakened since the government cracked down on excessive borrowing by property developers, causing dozens of such companies to default on their debts. The downturn has affected the entire economy, which is the second largest in the world.

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In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 fell 1% to 39,286.97 on concerns about further weakness in the Japanese yen.

The US dollar was trading at 160.43 yen early Thursday, after breaching the 160 level the previous day. Japanese officials have warned that they may intervene in the market to counter this trend, which has both positive and negative effects on the economy.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1% to 7,708.10, while stocks also fell in Taiwan and India. The SET index in Bangkok fell, while stocks in Jakarta and Singapore rose.

On Wednesday, a largely weak trading day left Wall Street’s benchmark indexes near all-time highs set last week.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% to 5,477.90 after drifting between small gains and losses for most of the day. About 65% of the stocks listed on the benchmark index fell.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up less than 0.1% to 39,127.80, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.5% to 17,805.16.

Several large-cap stocks helped offset the broader decline in the S&P 500.

Amazon.com shares rose 3.9%. Its market capitalization exceeded $2 trillion for the first time. Its rise comes just days after Nvidia’s value reached $3 trillion, briefly becoming the most valuable company on Wall Street.

Chipotle gained 0.3% on its first day of trading after splitting its stock 50-for-1. It was previously among the most expensive stocks in the S&P 500.

FedEx helped offset losses with a gain of 15.5%. The parcel carrier reported fourth-quarter results that easily beat expectations. Rivian Volkswagen shares rose 23.2% after Volkswagen said it would invest up to $5 billion in the struggling electric car maker.

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Several major technology companies have gained ground. Apple shares rose 2% and Microsoft rose 0.3%. Their large values ​​tend to greatly influence the market direction.

Investors are hoping the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates soon, but its efforts to tame inflation to its 2% target have been difficult. Wall Street is betting on a rate cut at the central bank’s September meeting.

The economy has remained relatively strong, despite inflation and higher borrowing costs for consumers and businesses. However, economic growth has slowed, and consumers appear to be becoming more stressed and shifting their spending to necessities. Wall Street is hoping the Fed can lower interest rates so that the pressure on the economy is eased before it slows too much, but it also falls short of its goal of cooling inflation.

In other trading, the price of US crude oil lost 21 cents to $80.69 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 19 cents to $84.28 a barrel.

The euro rose to $1.0693 from $1.0681.

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Associated Press writers Damien J. Trois and Stan Choi contributed to this report.

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