BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday after stocks rallied on Wall Street ahead of an update on US inflation that investors hope will show a smaller increase in pain for everyone.
The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.9% to 18,827.66 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.4% to 7,135.70. In Seoul, the Kospi rose 0.5% to 2,574.72.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.8% to 31,943.93 after North Korea launched a long-range missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, two days after the north threatened with “shocking” consequences to protest what it called provocative US reconnaissance activities near its territory.
The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.8% to 3,196.13 points. Stocks rose in Taiwan, but fell in India.
Bangkok’s SET index rose 0.4% after Thailand’s state election commission said the top candidate to become the country’s next prime minister, Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the Move Forward Party, may have passed the electoral law violated. He referred his case to the Constitutional Court. The decision that Pita could be suspended from his duties as an MP pending a ruling does not preclude parliament from nominating him to become prime minister.
Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were little changed. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 rose 0.7%, the Dow gained 0.9% and the Nasdaq composite added 0.5% to 13,760.70.
Activision Blizzard rose 10% for one of the biggest gains in the market after a judge ruled that Microsoft could go ahead with its $69 billion acquisition of the video game maker. Salesforce was the biggest driver of the Dow after a 3.9% increase in announced price increases for its products. Amazon also pushed the market up, rising 1.3% on the first day of its annual Prime Day sales event.
WD-40 rose 18.5% after it said sales grew for the three months through May after two consecutive quarters of flat to lower sales.
Much of Wall Street’s gains for the day came at the close of trading, with about a third of the S&P 500’s gains coming in the last 20 minutes.
“While there was some brisk action on a handful of stocks, most investors seem to be playing the wait and see game ahead of some major US inflation reports,” SPI Asset Management’s Stephen Innes said in a comment.
Later Wednesday, the US government will report consumer-level inflation. Economists expect another slowdown, with prices in June 3.1% higher than a year earlier, lower than inflation of 4% in May and just over 9% last summer.
The hope on Wall Street is that a continued decline in inflation will convince the Federal Reserve to end its rate hikes soon. High rates have helped reduce inflation, but they have also created rifts in banking, manufacturing and other industries, while also eroding prices for stocks and other investments.
Later in the week, companies will start telling investors how much profit they made in the spring, and expectations are largely bleak. Analysts are predicting the sharpest decline in earnings per share for S&P 500 companies since the pandemic crushed the global economy in the spring of 2020.
Due to the low bar for businesses for spring, they may be able to squeak past without much heroism.
On the losing side of Wall Street were several cruise operators, losing momentum after a torrid start to the year. Carnival was down 2.1% and Royal Caribbean was down 1.9%. However, both are still up more than 100% for the year so far.
Bank of America drifted back and forth between losses and gains after regulators ordered it to pay $250 million in customer refunds and fines. It ended up with a 1.3% gain after regulators said it double-cut costs, withheld rewards from credit cards and opened accounts without customers’ knowledge.
On another trading Wednesday, benchmark U.S. crude oil extracted remained unchanged at $74.83 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It won $1.84 on Tuesday. Brent crude, the price base for international trade, rose 3 cents to $79.43 a barrel.
The dollar fell from 140.36 yen to 139.65 Japanese yen. The euro rose from $1.1006 to $1.1027.