Asian stocks gain after Wall Street had best day in 6 weeks

BANGKOK – Stocks were mostly higher in Asia on Monday after strong data on the US economy sent Wall Street to its best close in six weeks.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose less than 0.1% to 20,576.11 and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2% to 3,320.42.

At the annual session of the Chinese legislature, the government set this year’s economic figures Growth target at “around 5% ‘ as it tries to rebuild operations after the end of antivirus controls that kept millions of people at home.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the priority is an economic revival based on consumer spending after growth fell to 3% last year, the second-lowest level since at least the 1970s. But officials briefing the media on economic planning on Monday provided no new or specific policy initiatives to achieve that goal.

“The slower-than-expected GDP growth target of around 5% set by the government is in line with our 5% GDP forecast for this year,” ING said in a comment. “The government is aware that a weakening foreign market would pose challenges for China’s export-related industries.”

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.2% to 28,253.60 and Seoul’s Kospi rose 1.1% to 2,458.88. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia was up 0.6% to 7,325.20 and shares in Taiwan were higher. Thailand’s markets were closed for a national holiday.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 1.6% to cap its first week of gains in the past four weeks, as falling bond market yields took some pressure off Wall Street. After a rapid rise and fall earlier in the year, it has found some stability.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 387 points, or 1.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 2%.

Markets teetered amid uncertainty about where inflation is going and what the federal reserve will take action against it.

Wall Street rallied earlier in the year on hopes that a slowdown in inflation would persuade the Fed to ease its interest rate hikes. Such increases can lower inflation by slowing the economy, but they also increase inflation danger of a recession later and hurt investment prices.

Stocks fell last month after reports of the hotter-than-expected economy arrived. They included data on the labor market, consumer spending and inflation itself at multiple levels.

The strong data raised concerns about continued upward pressure on inflation. That forced Wall Street to do it Abandon hopes of rate cuts this year and raise his expectations of how high interest rates would go.

But data released on Friday, which showed the economy was in better shape than previously thought, was taken as a good sign and calmed concerns about a possible recession, even if it could put pressure on inflation.

The yield on the 10-year government bond fell to 3.94% on Monday, extending its fall from 4.06% late Thursday. It’s a respite from its run of the past month as expectations for a firmer Fed rose.

The Fed’s next rate hike is scheduled for later this month. Until then, reports on the strength of the jobs market and on inflation are likely to have a major impact on the market and expectations for Fed action.

Over the past month it has scaled back the size of its rate hikes, highlighting the progress made in the fight to bring down inflation. It was also hinted earlier that only two more rate hikes could be on the way. But the strong reports since then have raised fears that the Fed could not only hike at least three more times, but also increase the magnitude of the hikes again.

On the other day of trading, US benchmark crude fell 77 cents to $78.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday it was up $1.52 to $79.68 a barrel.

Brent crude, the international price standard, lost 76 cents to $85.07 a barrel.

The dollar fell to 135.64 Japanese yen from 135.98 yen late Friday. The euro rose to $1.0647 from $1.0626.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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