By ELAINE KURTENBACH
AP Business Writer
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares advanced in Asia on Thursday after a rally on Wall Street as investors welcomed a report showing U.S. consumer confidence is holding up despite the Federal Reserve’s campaign to fight inflation by raising interest rates.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped more than 2% and benchmarks also rose in Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul. Shanghai and Mumbai declined. U.S. futures and oil prices were modestly higher.
Markets got a boost from a report showing U.S. consumer confidence is surprisingly strong, despite inflation squeezing wallets. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 108.3 in December from 101.4 in November. That pushed the index to its highest level since April. Last month’s figure was the lowest since July.
Asian markets also got a lift from the overnight rally in tech shares, which spilled into trading in Hong Kong. E-commerce giant Alibaba jumped 4.8% while online services company Tencent gained 3.9%. Online shopping and food delivery platform Meituan picked up 5.7%.
By mid-afternoon, the Hang Seng was up 2.3% at 19,595.69, while the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.3% to 3,058.71.
“Asian stocks picked up where the U.S. market left off, with technology and property companies leading the charge after a profusion of comments from regulators on supporting broader markets,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was 0.5% higher at 26,507.87 and the Kospi in Seoul rose 1.1% to 2,353.85. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.5% to 7,152.50.
Bangkok’s SET gained 0.2% while the Taiex in Taiwan climbed 1.5%.
Stocks closed broadly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, bringing major indexes into the green for the week.
The S&P 500 jumped 1.5% to 3,878.44 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 1.6% to 33,376.48, helped by a 12.2% surge for Nike after its earnings results trounced analysts’ estimates.
Technology companies powered a big share of Wednesday’s rally. Apple rose 2.4%.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 1.5% to 10,709.37.
Small company stocks also gained ground. The Russell 2000 index rose 28.92 points, or 1.7%, to 1,776.94.
Consumer spending and the job market are strong areas for the U.S. economy that have helped prevent it from slipping into a recession. Wall Street is hoping for a “soft landing” from decades high inflation and the interest rate hikes being deployed to tame it.
The Fed’s key lending rate, the federal funds rate, stands at a range of 4.25% to 4.5%, the highest level in 15 years. Fed policymakers are forecasting the rate will reach a range of 5% to 5.25% by the end of 2023 and won’t be cut before 2024.
If the Fed goes too far in raising interest rates, it could cause the economy to stall and tip into recession.
Treasury yields mostly fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, slipped to 3.66% from 3.69 late Tuesday.
Other new data released Wednesday showed the nation’s housing market slowed further last month, as sales of previously occupied homes fell for the tenth month in a row. Rising mortgage rates are making an already tight housing market even more difficult for prospective homebuyers.
The government will release Friday a closely watched monthly snapshot of consumer spending, the personal consumption expenditure price index. The report is monitored by the Fed as a barometer of inflation, which has been easing, albeit at a slow pace. Economists expect the report to show inflation cooled in November.
In energy trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil added 33 cents to $78.62 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up $2.06 to $78.29 per barrel on Wednesday.
U.S. inventory data showed the Strategic Petroleum Reserve falling to 378.6 million barrels, its lowest level since 1983, thanks to a larger-than-expected draw down last week. That overrode worries about weak demand due to the slowing economy, pushing prices higher.
Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, gained 29 cents to $82.87 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar slipped to 131.84 Japanese yen from 132.42 yen. The euro rose to $1.0644 from $1.0606.
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