Asia stocks steady after softer economic data

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HONG KONG – Asian stocks were largely steady Wednesday after softer economic data weighed on United States equities.

US treasuries trimmed a rally spurred by Federal Reserve officials again predicting transitory price pressures.

Shares fluctuated in Japan and climbed in Hong Kong. Chinese equities edged up after surging the most since July on Tuesday. Singapore is closed for a public holiday.

US equity contracts rose and Nasdaq 100 futures outperformed, after the S&P 500 slipped and the tech-heavy gauge made a small gain. Reports showed US new home sales slid and consumer confidence fell slightly amid concerns over inflation and jobs.

New ’s dollar jumped after the central bank projected that interest rates may start to rise in the second half of next year if the economy continues to recover from the pandemic.

Treasury yields remain below this year’s peaks, with more Fed officials joining a chorus downplaying price pressures. A dollar gauge touched the lowest level since early January.

Oil was steady and gold erased 2021 losses. Bitcoin climbed toward US$40,000 in a partial recovery from last week’s crypto rout.

Signs of quickening inflation are giving investors pause for thought as they consider the outlook for the exceptional stimulus buoying markets. Fed vice-chair Richard Clarida said price pressures in the US would largely be transitory. He added officials may be ready to begin discussing how to taper asset purchases “in upcoming meetings,” echoing recent Fed minutes.

“What we keep hearing from the Fed is that they’re going to take a very different approach to inflation this time around,” Ms Kristina Hooper, Invesco chief global market strategist, said on Bloomberg TV. “The Fed is likely to let the punchbowl stay out a lot longer. The big fear about inflation is that the Fed would act.”

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