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Asian stocks follow Wall Street down on rate hike, economy fears

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BEIJING –


Asian stocks followed Wall Street lower Tuesday as fears increased that U.S. rate increases to fight inflation might stall economic growth.


Market benchmarks in Tokyo, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia fell. Shanghai advanced. Oil prices fell more than US$1 but stayed above $100 per barrel.


Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index tumbled 3.2% on Monday, hitting its lowest point in more than a year.

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The Federal Reserve is trying to cool inflation that is running at a four-decade high, but investors worry that might trigger a U.S. downturn. That adds to pressure from Russia’s war on Ukraine and a Chinese slowdown.


Traders are pricing in the “impending deterioration of economic conditions,” said Yeap Jun Rong of IG in a report.


The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.8% to 26,117.76 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 2.8% to 19,436.73.


The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2% to 3,009.22 after the Chinese government announced rent cuts and other aid for small businesses in a new effort to boost anemic economic growth.


The Kospi in Seoul shed 0.7% to 3,593.12 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 declined 1.2% to 7,034.90.


India’s Sensex opened up 0.1% at 54,537.35. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets retreated.

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On Wall Street, the S&P 500 sank to 3,991.24. That leaves Wall Street’s benchmark down 16.8% from its Jan. 3 record.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2% to 32,245.70. The Nasdaq composite slid 4.3% to 11,623.25 as tech stocks to the brunt of the selling.


Energy stocks also fell. Marathon Oil and APA Corp. each sank more than 14%.


Stocks have declined as the Fed turns away from a strategy of pumping money into the financial system, which boosted prices.


The U.S. central bank has raised its key rate from close to zero, where it sat for much of the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, it indicated it will double the size of future increases from its usual margin.


In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude sank $1.15 to $101.94 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $6.68 to $103.09 on Monday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, lost $1.20 to $104.74 per barrel in London. It fell $6.45 the previous session to $105.94.


The dollar gained to 130.43 yen from Monday’s 130.32 yen. The euro rose to $1.0576 from $1.0566.

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