Asian markets follow Wall Street higher as oil prices fall

BANGKOK — Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday after a lead on Wall Street snapped a three-day losing streak.

Tokyo NIK’s Nikkei 225 index,
+1.21%
gained 1%. Hang Seng HSI from Hong Kong,
+0.46%
rose 0.3% and the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP index,
+1.17%
advanced 0.7% on reports that China’s central bank may ease policy to counter the blow to its economy from pandemic-related shutdowns in major cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The S&P/ASX 200 XJO,
+0.57%
in Sydney climbed 0.6%, and the Kospi 180721,
+0.02%
in Seoul was flat after South Korea’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 percentage points to 1.50%. This is its fourth increase since August 2021. Benchmarks in Taiwan Y9999,
-0.12%
and Indonesia JAKIDX,
-0.32%
have changed little.

Shares in Singapore STI,
+0.01%
remained stable after the Monetary Authority of Singapore tightened its policy by adjusting exchange rates more aggressively than expected. It also raised its inflation forecast for 2022 to 2.5%-3.5% from 2.0%-3.0%.

Shares rose in New Zealand NZ50GR,
+0.14%
after the country’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday.

“Overall, there could be some relief with the positive movements on Wall Street, as well as indications from the Chinese authorities for further monetary easing. It has been reported that China will reduce the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for banks or would use other policy tools “when the time is right,” IG’s Jun Rong Yeap said in a comment.

Investors appeared to discount new evidence that inflation remains widespread in the U.S. economy in a U.S. government report that said rising energy costs pushed wholesale prices to a record 11.2% last month from a year earlier.

This report comes a day after the ministry reported that consumer price remain at their highest level for generations.

Rising prices are prompting the Federal Reserve and many other central banks to tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates, among other measures, to help calm the growing demand that is contributing to the problem.

US stock and bond markets face a shortened week and will be closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 SPX index,
+1.12%
rose 1.1% to 4,446.59, ending a 3-day losing streak sparked by lingering worries about inflation and the harsh remedy the Federal Reserve plans to use against it.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,
+1.01%
rose 1% to 34,564.59 and the Nasdaq COMP,
+2.03%
took 2% to 13,643.59.

Bond yields fell. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.68% early Thursday from 2.72% late Tuesday.

Inflation may be at its peak, but it will likely persist for some time as cost pressures work their way through the markets.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increased volatility in energy prices, as oil supplies were already tight as demand increased with the decline of the pandemic. Crude oil prices in the United States are up about 40% for the year, pushing up gasoline prices and giving inflation a bigger impact on people’s wallets.

In energy trading, the US benchmark crude oil CLK22,
-0.59%
slipped 35 cents to $103.89 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $3.65 to $104.25 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude BRNM22,
-0.17%,
the standard for international oil prices, fell 28 cents to $108.50 a barrel.

The US dollar USDJPY,
-0.28%
slipped to 125.22 Japanese yen from 125.63 yen.