TOKYO – Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Friday ahead of a speech by the Federal Reserve chair that investors hoped would shed light on plans for more interest rate hikes.
Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Shanghai was little-changed. Oil prices rose.
Investors focused on Jerome Powell’s speech at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole meeting for signs of when the U.S. central bank, trying to cool inflation that is running at multi-decade highs, might raise rates again and by how much.
Traders worry the Fed’s four rate hikes this year, plus increases by central banks in Europe and Asia, might derail global growth. Some expect the Fed to reverse course and start cutting rates in 2023 due to signs the U.S. economy might be cooling.
“The Fed could start thinking about a pause in rate hikes, potentially for the end of the year,” said Thomas Costerg of Pictet in a report. “However, it is still too early to talk about rate cuts.”
The Shanghai Composite Index shed less than 0.1% to 3,244.98 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 0.6% to 28,643.15. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.5% to 20,065.69.
The Kospi in Seoul added 0.1% to 2,480.46 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 surged 1% to 7,118.20.
India’s Sensex opened up 0.4% at 59,031.50. New Zealand, Bangkok and Jakarta declined while Singapore rose.
Global markets have swung between optimism about stronger corporate profits and unease about possible recession risks.
On Wall Street, the S&P surged 1.4% to 4,199.12 for its biggest daily increase in nearly two weeks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% to 33,291.78. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1.7% to 12,639.27.
Also Thursday, the government reported the U.S. economy didn’t contract by as much as previously thought during the spring. It shrank 0.6% on an annualized basis, the government said, less than the previous 0.9% estimate.
The Fed’s Jackson Hole meeting in Wyoming, which attracts economists from around the world, has been the setting for market-defining announcements in the past.
Investors are hoping for clarity from Powell after Fed officials said they still supported rate hikes despite hopes inflation might be peaking.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained 80 cents to $93.32 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.37 on Thursday to $92.52. Brent crude, the price basis for international trading, advanced 78 cents to $99.24 per barrel in London. It lost $1.88 the previous session to $99.34.
The dollar gained to 136.89 yen from Thursday’s 136.46 yen. The euro edged up to 99.71 cents from 99.69 cents.