Asian stocks follow Wall St lower amid growth concerns

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street down on Wednesday after U.S. inflation was lower than expected amid unease about the impact of the spread of the coronavirus’s delta variant.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney all retreated, giving up the previous day’s gains.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell despite data showing consumer prices rose at their slowest rate in seven months in August.

Investor optimism about the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and central bank support for global economies is competing with anxiety about the impact of the delta variant and anti-disease measures on consumers and businesses.

“Initial optimism from a lower-than-expected print on the U.S. CPI was quickly overridden by global growth concerns,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost less than 0.1% to 3,660.60 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo sank 0.5% to 30,510.05. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.7% to 25,326.33.

The Kospi in Seoul gained 0.3% to 3,159.27 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 retreated 0.6% to 7,394.80. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets declined.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 lost 0.6% to 4,443.05, giving up the previous day’s gain, after the government reported consumer prices in August rose 0.3% over the previous month.

The benchmark’s 11 sectors all ended in the red. Banks, energy stocks and industrial and communication companies were among the biggest drags on the index.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.8% to 34,577.57. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.5% to 15,037.76.

Investors worry higher inflation might make the Federal Reserve and other central banks feel pressure to wind down easy credit and other stimulus that is helping to push up stock prices. The Fed has said it believes a spike in U.S. consumer inflation was temporary and interest rates will be kept low until a recovery is established.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 43 cents to $70.89 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contracted added 1 cent on Tuesday to $70.46. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, advanced 43 cents to $74.03 per barrel in London. It gained 9 cents the previous day to $73.60 a barrel.

The dollar was little-changed at 109.62 yen. The euro rose to $1.1808 from $1.1804.