BEIJING – Shares were mixed in Asia on Wednesday with Chinese benchmarks pressing higher after a rally in technology companies helped reverse most of an early slide on Wall Street.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.7% to 19,967.25 and the Shanghai Composite index climbed 1.5% to 3,082.50.
That followed the release of data showing inflation at 2.1% in April in annual terms, up 0.4% over the previous quarter.
Surging inflation is prompting central banks and governments in many countries to rein in support provided to markets and businesses during the height of the pandemic.
The moderation of price increases in China raised expectations authorities will opt for more stimulus spending to counter the impact of shutdowns in many major cities to fight coronavirus outbreaks.
“In the context of the inflation landscape elsewhere in the world, China is in a very sweet spot at the moment, markets today are pricing that it gives China’s government room to unleash some juicy stimulus," Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.2% to 26,213.64, while the S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 7,057.40. In Seoul, the Kospi slipped 0.1% to 2,594.43.
Investors are awaiting the release later Wednesday of the Labor Department's report on consumer prices for April. On Thursday, it will release its report on producer prices, or wholesale prices that impact businesses, for April.
Such data influence the Federal Reserve's strategy on interest rates and other monetary policy. The concern is that aggressive action to tame inflation might cause the economy to tip into recession.
“Some wait-and-see is largely in place, as participants refrain from taking on excessive risks while awaiting how markets will react to the expected decline in US CPI –- the first in seven months," Jun Rong Yeap of IG said in a commentary.
Stocks ended mixed on Wall Street Tuesday after a rally in technology companies helped reverse most of an early slide.
The S&P 500 wound up 0.2% higher at 4,001.05 after giving up most of an early gain of 1.9%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3% to 32,160.74.
The Nasdaq composite rose 1% to 11,737.67.
Big technology stocks, which have been swinging sharply both up and down recently, accounted for much of the S&P 500's turnaround. Apple rose 2.2% and Microsoft rose 2.2%.
Gains in communication and health care stocks also helped lift the market, outweighing declines in financial, real estate and other sectors.
Bond yields were mixed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.99% from 3.08% late Monday.
Treasury yields have been rising and stocks have been extremely volatile recently as Wall Street adjusts to the central bank's moves to raise interest rates from historic lows to fight persistently rising inflation, which is at its highest levels in four decades.
The central bank has raised its benchmark 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.
Higher prices on raw materials, shipping and labor have been cutting into corporate financial results and forecasts. Many companies have been raising prices on everything from clothing to food, raising concerns that consumers will eventually cut spending, which would hurt economic growth.
Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine has only increased worries about rising inflation. The conflict pushed already high oil and natural gas prices even higher, while putting more pressure on costs for key food commodities like wheat, Wheat prices are up more than 40% for the year.
U.S. crude oil prices are up about 36% in 2022. The U.S. benchmark gained $2.33 to $102.09 per barrel on Wednesday in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 3.2% on Tuesday.
Brent crude, the international basis for pricing oil, jumped $2.45 to $104.91 per barrel.
In currency dealings, the dollar slipped to 130.33 Japanese yen from 130.43 yen. The euro rose to $1.0541 from $1.0532.