Asian shares advance as investors await US inflation data

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U.S. flags fly from the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, June 7, 2021. Stocks are opening mostly higher on Wall Street as gains for Big Tech companies offset weakness in banks and other parts of the market. The S&P 500 edged up 0.1% in the early going Wednesday, June 9. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares are higher after Wall Street logged modest losses, as investors await key U.S. inflation data. Benchmarks rose across the region, but stayed in a narrow range.

Investors will get closely watched U.S. inflation data on Thursday. The focus is on how it might impact ultra-low interest rates and other market-supporting policies.

“There’s a sense of every man for himself ahead of the U.S. inflation data this evening, a data point that has left markets in limbo and seems to be taking an interminably long time to arrive,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

The Labor Department’s release of the consumer price index comes shortly before a meeting next week of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee, which sets policy on interest rates and other measures.

Trading has been relatively constrained this week, with investors parsing any data to judge whether rising inflation will be temporary, as the Federal Reserve thinks, or more permanent.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.3% to 28,951.07 and the Kospi in South Korea picked up 0.4% to 3,228.76. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng added 0.3% to 28,812.05, while the Shanghai Composite index advanced 0.8% to 3,620.72. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3% to 7,292.10.

On Wednesday, a slide in banks and industrial companies nudged stocks on Wall Street to modest losses after an early gain faded in the last half-hour of trading. Stocks championed by hordes of online retail investors, the “meme” stocks as they have become known, were volatile once again.

The S&P 500 slipped 0.2% to 4,219.55, erasing its meager gain from a day earlier. The benchmark index’s modest moves this week have it on track for its first weekly loss in three weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 0.4% to 34,447.14, while the Nasdaq held up somewhat better, ending down just 0.1% at 13,911.75.

The tech-heavy index was lifted by the same Big Tech companies that have pushed it generally higher for the last 18 months. Microsoft rose 0.4% and Amazon added 0.5%.

Treasury yields slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.48% from 1.52% late Tuesday. The falling yields have weighed down banks, which rely on higher yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans.

Small company stocks, which have outgained the broader market this year, also fell. The Russell 2000 index gave up 0.7% to 2,327.13.

Elsewhere in the market, volatility in stocks embraced by investors using online forums like Reddit continued. Clover Health fell 23.6% while AMC Entertainment sank 10.4%. Wendy’s sank 12.7% after soaring 25.9% a day earlier.

The original “meme” stock, GameStop, said after the closing bell Wednesday that it has brought in a pair of Amazon veterans as its new chief executive and chief financial officer to aid in its much anticipated digital turnaround. The company also reported a smaller quarterly loss than a year ago as revenue increased. Its shares fell 3% in after-hours trading.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude dropped 54 cents to $69.42 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 9 cents to $69.96 per barrel on Wednesday.

Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 56 cents to $71.66 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar was trading at 109.54 Japanese yen, down from 109.64 late Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.2171 from $1.2182.

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AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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