Asian stocks follow Wall St up as Powell says rates to rise

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Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street higher after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said U.S. interest rates might be raised earlier than planned

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.9% after Powell said policy “in all likelihood” will return to normal as bond purchases and other economic stimulus winds down. Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee, he said ultra-low rates might be raised earlier than planned if necessary to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high.

“Wall Street now has a better understanding on how the Fed will normalize policy,” Edward Moya of Oanda said in a report. “After Powell’s testimony, some investors feel they got the all-clear signal to buy the dip.”

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 3,579.74 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 1.8% to 28,720.22. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 2.2% to 24,256.72.

The Kospi in Seoul added 1.4% to 2,967.98 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was 0.6% higher at 7,437.10.

India’s Sensex opened up 0.8% at 61,084.46. New Zealand retreated while Southeast Asian markets gained.

Investors were rattled in mid-December when Fed officials said they would accelerate plans to wind down stimulus that is boosting stock prices. They have been trying to figure out how the world’s biggest economy and financial markets will react.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 broke a five-day series of declines and rose to 4,713.07. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5% to 36,252.02. The Nasdaq composite advanced 1.4% to 15,153.45.

Apple rose 1.7% and chipmaker Nvidia rose 1.5%. Communication stocks and a mix of retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending rose. Facebook parent Meta Platforms gained 1.9% and Gap rose 3%.

The World Bank cut its forecast for global economic growth this year to 4.1% from 4.3% due in part to supply chain disruptions that fueled inflation. The agency estimates the world economy grew by 5.5% in 2021.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government is due to report consumer inflation. That is followed Thursday by an index of wholesale prices.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 7 cents to $81.29 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.99 on Tuesday to $81.22. Brent crude, used as the price basis for international oils, lost 6 cents to $83.66 per barrel in London. It gained $2.85 the previous session to $83.72.

The dollar edged down to 115.34 yen from Tuesday’s 115.37 yen. The euro rose to $1.1378 from $1.1366.

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