Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed, taking hot US inflation data in stride

BANGKOK — Asian shares were mixed Thursday after U.S. stocks fell on worries that what had seemed like a blip in the battle to bring down inflation may be a troubling trend.

Oil prices edged higher and U.S. futures were flat.

South Korean shares were little changed after the ruling conservative party suffered a crushing defeat in a parliamentary election. The Kospi edged less than 0.1% higher, to 2,706.96.

The results were a huge political blow to President Yoon Suk Yeol, and Prime Minster Han Duck-soo and all Yoon’s senior presidential advisers except those in charge of security issues submitted their resignations Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.4% to 39,442.63 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged 0.1% lower, to 17,118.27.

The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.2% to 3,032.01 and the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4% to 7,813.60.

Bangkok’s SET lost 0.3% and Taiwan’s Taiex was down 0.1%.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 dropped 0.9% to 5,160.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.1% to 38,461.51, and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.8% to 16,170.36.

Treasury yields leaped as bond prices fell, raising the pressure on the stock market, after a report showed inflation was hotter last month than economists expected. It’s the third straight report to suggest progress on bringing high inflation down may be stalling.

For shoppers, that’s painful because of the potential for even higher prices at the store. For Wall Street, it raises fears that the Federal Reserve will hold back on delivering the cuts to interest rates that traders are craving and have been betting on.

The Fed has been waiting for more evidence to show inflation is heading sustainably down toward its goal of 2%. After an encouraging cooling last year, the fear now is that inflation may be stuck after January’s, February’s and March’s inflation reports all came in hotter than expected, along with data on the economy generally.

Prices for everything from bonds to gold fell immediately after the morning’s release of the inflation data.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped to 4.54% from 4.36% late Tuesday and is back to where it was in November. The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for Fed action, shot even higher and rose to 4.97% from 4.74%.

Traders sharply cut back on bets that the Fed could begin cutting rates in June. At the start of the year, they were forecasting six or more cuts through 2024.

High interest rates work to undercut inflation by slowing the economy and hurting investment prices. The fear is that rates left too high for too long can cause a recession.

Wall Street’s biggest losers on Wednesday included real-estate investment trusts, utility companies and other stocks that tend to get hurt most by high interest rates.

Real-estate stocks in the S&P 500 fell 4.1% for the biggest loss by far among the 11 sectors that make up the index. That included a 6.1% drop for office owner Boston Properties and a 5.3% tumble for Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Higher interest rates could chill the housing industry by making mortgages more expensive. Homebuilder D.R. Horton fell 6.4%, Lennar sank 5.8% and PulteGroup dropped 5.2%.

Big U.S. companies are lining up to report profits earned during the first three months of the year, and Delta Air Lines helped kick off the reporting season by delivering better-than-expected results.

The airline said it’s seeing strong demand for flights around the world, and it expects the strength to continue through the spring. But it also refrained from raising its profit forecast for the full year. Its stock climbed as much as 4% during the morning before flipping to a loss of 2.3%.

In other trading early Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil was unchanged at $86.21 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 2 cents to $90.50 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar fell to 153.10 Japanese yen from 153.17 yen, trading near a 34-year high. The yen has weakened on expectations that the gap between interest rates in Japan, which are near zero, and those in the U.S. will remain wide for the foreseeable future.

The euro fell to $1.0734 from $1.0746.

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