By Associated Press
BEIJING — Asian stock markets rose Thursday after China cut interest rates to shore up flagging economic growth and Japan reported a double-digit rise in exports.
The Nikkei 225 /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -1.89% in Tokyo gained 0.9% after December exports rose 17.5% over a year earlier . Growth in auto exports accelerated to 17.5% from November’s 4.1%.
The Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -1.28% in Seoul added 0.6% while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -1.65% lost 0.1%. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 -1.70% and Malaysia /zigman2/quotes/210598052/delayed MY:FBMKLCI -0.35% declined while Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI -1.07% and Jakarta /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX +0.44% advanced.
The Chinese central bank cut rates on one- and five-year loans after growth in the world’s second-largest economy sank to 4% over a year earlier in the latest quarter following a crackdown on surging debt among real estate developers.
“The question remains whether banks will respond by increasing lending,” said Iris Pang of ING in a report. Amid uncertainty about heavily indebted developers, Pang said, “banks will be picky about who they lend to.”
On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.24% fell 1% on Wednesday as investors tried to figure out how fast the Federal Reserve will roll back economic stimulus to cool inflation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.32% retreated 1% to 35,028.65. The Nasdaq composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.12% , dominated by technology stocks, lost 1.1% to 14,340.26. The index is 10.7% below its Nov. 19 all-time high.
The market “succumbed to renewed fears of inflation/Fed tightening,” Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank said in a report.
Stocks have slid since Fed officials said in mid-December it plans to wind down bond purchases and other stimulus that are boosting share prices would be accelerated due to the spike in U.S. inflation to a four-decade high.
Late Tuesday, investors were pricing in a better than 86% probability the Fed will raise short-term rates at its March meeting, according to CME Group. That is up from 47% a month ago.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden called on the Fed to do more to fight inflation.
“Given the strength of our economy, and the pace of recent price increases, it’s important to recalibrate the support that is now necessary,” Biden said at a news conference.
Investors are watching the latest round of corporate earnings for indications inflation might be cutting into profits.
Household and consumer goods company Procter & Gamble rose 3.4% after reporting strong financial results. The company said consumers have been willing to pay higher prices for dish detergent, diapers and other products.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 16 cents to $85.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude , used to price international oils, shed 24 cents to $88.20 per barrel in London.
The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.4445% edged up to 114.27 yen from Wednesday’s 114.25 yen.