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Global stocks mixed after Fed says ready to act on inflation

Global stock markets mostly rose Thursday after Federal Reserve officials indicated they were ready to hike interest rates sooner than expected if needed to cool U.S. inflation.
London, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Hong Kong markets advanced, while Shanghai declined.

Wall Street futures were higher. U.S. markets were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. They reopen Friday for a shortened trading session.

Fed officials at their October policy meeting said they “would not hesitate” to respond to inflation, according to notes released Wednesday. They foresaw the possibility of raising rates “sooner than participants currently anticipated.”

That fuelled investor fears the Fed and other central banks might feel pressure to withdraw economic stimulus that has been boosting stock prices. Fed officials earlier indicated they might raise rates late next year.

Higher prices combined with stronger U.S. hiring suggest the attitude at the next Fed meeting might be “unabashedly more hawkish,” said Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE in London rose less than 0.1% to 7,289.90 and the DAX in Frankfurt gained 0.3% to 15,927.78. The CAC 40 in Paris added 0.3% to 7,063.84.

Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.3%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2% to 3,584.18 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.7% to 29,499.28. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.2% to 24,740.16.

The Kospi in Seoul lost 0.5% to 2,980.27 after the Korean central bank raised its policy interest rate by 0.25 percentage points to 1% in line with expectations.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.1% to 7,407.30 and India’s Sensex gained 0.8% to 58,811.46. New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Singapore and Bangkok declined.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 advanced 0.2%. Gains in technology, real estate and energy stocks outweighed a slide in banks and materials companies.

The Dow slipped less than 0.1% while the Nasdaq composite gained 0.4%.

The Fed notes showed officials still believe this year’s inflation spike is likely to be temporary but acknowledged prices rose more than expected.

The notes covered the October meeting at which Fed board members voted to take the first steps to roll back easy credit and other measures to support an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

A wide range of industries have been hit by inflation pressures and disruptions in supplies of raw materials and components. Forecasters worry consumers might cut spending if retail prices keep rising.

Consumer spending rose 1.3% in October, slightly more than double the previous month’s rise, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The Labor Department reported the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level in more than half a century.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 5 cents to US$78.34 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 10 cents to $81.15 per barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 115.36 yen from 115.48 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1221 from $1.1199.

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