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Asian Stocks Down After Bigger-Than-Expected Rise in U.S. Consumer Prices

Stock MarketsMay 12, 2021 10:26PM ET
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By Gina Lee

Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were down Thursday morning, continuing a downward trend as bond yields rose over concerns that the bigger-than-expected increase in U.S. consumer prices could impact the economic recovery from COVID-19.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.90% by 10:16 PM ET (2:16 AM GMT). March’s current account n.s.a., released earlier in the day, was a disappointing JPY2.650 trillion.

South Korea’s KOSPI was down 0.36% and in Australia, the ASX 200 was down 0.34%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.16%.

China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.77% and the Shenzhen Component was down 0.78%.

Investors digested Wednesday’s U.S. inflation report, which said the Core Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.9% month-on-month in April, much higher than the 0.3% growth in forecasts prepared by Investing.com. The CPI also grew 0.8% month-on-month and 4.2% year-on-year.

With U.S. consumer prices at their highest levels since 2009, the debate on whether inflation is high enough to force a change in the U.S. Federal Reserve’s current dovish policy sooner than expected is likely to continue.

Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida said he was surprised by the jump in prices but expected it to be largely transitory.

Some investors suggested that the soonest that the Fed would act is at its June meeting.

“It likely would take a very strong May jobs report, with sizable upward revisions to March and especially April, to get the Fed to start a discussion about tapering at its June meeting... we continue to expect the Fed to begin scaling back its pace of asset purchases early next year," JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) economist Michael S. Hanson told Reuters.

Other investors argued that a loss of investor confidence could trigger a Fed reaction sooner than Hanson suggests.

“The concern is that the markets have lost a little bit of confidence that the Fed has control of inflation; I don’t think it’s necessarily the level, I think it’s the concern over ‘is the Fed going to wait too long to address the inflation question... I am not sure the market is extremely comfortable with that at this point,” Crossmark Global Investments chief market strategist Victoria Fernandez told Bloomberg.

The U.S. will release its April producer price index later in the day.

Treasury yields steadied on Thursday, giving up some of their gains from the previous session after an auction for benchmark 10-year notes saw strong demand.

Meanwhile, bitcoin continued its fall after Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company has suspended vehicle purchases using the cryptocurrency over environmental concerns. The tweet also added that Tesla will not be selling any bitcoin.

Asian Stocks Down After Bigger-Than-Expected Rise in U.S. Consumer Prices
 

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