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Asia stocks follow Wall St lower ahead of US inflation data



Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower Friday ahead of U.S. inflation data that might influence a Federal Reserve decision on when to roll back economic stimulus.

Shanghai Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney retreated.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell after three days of gains. More than three-quarters of companies in the index closed lower.

Traders were “potentially taking some risks off the table” while they wait for the November consumer price data, said Yeap Jun Rong of IG in a report.

Fed officials, due to meet next week, have said plans to wind down bond purchases and other stimulus measures that are boosting stock prices might be accelerated if needed to cool inflation, which hit a 30-year high in October.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3% to 3,661.12 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.5% to 28,582.83. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong retreated 0.5% to 24,132.85.

The Kospi in Seoul gave up 0.6% to 3,009.85 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was 0.3% lower at 7,359.10.

India’s Sensex lost 0.3% to 58,640.25. New Zealand gained while Southeast Asian markets declined.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.7% to 4,667.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped less than 1 point to 35,754.69. The Nasdaq lost 1.7% to 15,517.37.

The S&P 500 had gained 3.6% over the previous three days after the chief White House medical adviser said the omicron variant might not be as dangerous as the earlier delta strain. That eased fears of more restrictions on travel and business.

Technology stocks and a mix of retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending weighed the most on the S&P 500. Chipmaker Nvidia fell 3.4%, while Tesla slid 6.1% for the biggest drop in the index.

Travel-related companies slipped after spending the last few days gaining ground. Carnival fell 1.7% and United Airlines fell 1.8%.

Health-related stocks rose. Pfizer, which is touting the potential benefits of a vaccine booster against the omicron variant, rose 1.3%.

The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in 52 years.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 20 cents to $70.74 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.42 on Thursday to $70.94. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, sank 24 cents to $74.18 per barrel in London. It lost $1.40 the previous session to $74.42.

The dollar gained to 113.50 yen from Thursday’s 113.48 yen. The euro gained to $1.1300 from $1.1289.



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