Global stocks, oil prices higher before likely US rate hike

BEIJING — Major global stock markets and Wall Street futures advanced Wednesday as traders prepared for a possible sharp interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve to cool surging inflation.

London and Frankfurt opened higher. Tokyo and Sydney gained while Shanghai declined. Oil prices rose.

The Fed on Wednesday is expected to announce an increase of up to three-quarters of a percentage point in its benchmark interest rate, triple its usual margin. Investors worry such aggressive action by the Fed and other central banks in Europe and Asia to control inflation that is at multi-decade highs might derail global economic growth.

“The main risk at this stage is in fact an inflation ‘overkill’ with monetary tightening too abrupt, unnecessarily pushing up the unemployment rate,” Thomas Costerg of Pictet Wealth Management said in a report. Costerg said most economic indicators and lower commodity prices already point to slower inflation ahead.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.5% to 7,345.81. The DAX in Frankfurt rose 0.3% to 13,136.88 and the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.3% to 6,230.48.

The future for Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index was up 0.9% and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 1.2% after Walmart warned inflation that has spiked to a four-decade high of 9.1% hurts American consumer spending.

The Dow dropped 0.7% and the Nasdaq composite closed 1.9% lower.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost less than 0.1% to 3,275.76 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.2% to 27,715.75. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 1.4% to 20,620.10.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.2% to 6,823.20 after data showed Australian inflation rose to 6.1% in the latest quarter from 5.1% but the increase was smaller than forecast.

The Kospi in Seoul gained 0.1% to 2,415.53 and India’s Sensex rose 0.8% to 55,715.95. New Zealand declined while Southeast Asian markets advanced.

On Wall Street, other major retailers also fell Tuesday following Walmart’s profit warning. Target dropped 3.6%, Macy’s slid 7.2% and Kohl’s fell 9.1%.

Tech stocks retreated. Microsoft fell 2.7%, Amazon slid 5.2% and Facebook owner Meta Platforms dropped 4.5%.

General Motors fell 3.4% after its second-quarter profit fell 40% from a year ago. U.S. sales fell 15% after shortages of processor chips and other components left the company unable to deliver 95,000 vehicles during the quarter.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.17 to $96.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.72 on Tuesday to $94.98. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, added 94 cents to $100.40 per barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 136,90 yen from Tuesday’s 136.00 yen. The euro gained to $1.0138 from $1.0120.

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