Asian stocks skid, following Wall Street’s pullback

By ELAINE KURTENBACH

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stocks fell on Friday after a retreat on Wall Street that left the Nasdaq composite down 2.5%.

Tokyo fell nearly 2% but recovered some ground later in the session. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul were also down.

China reported its world trade surplus jumped nearly 30% in 2021 to $676.4 billion. The trade surplus in December rose 20.8% from a year earlier to a monthly record of $94.4 billion, customs data showed on Friday.

Exports hit $3.3 trillion in 2021 despite shortages of processor chips for smartphones and other products as global demand rebounded from the pandemic. Manufacturers were also hampered by power rationing imposed in some areas.

South Korea’s central bank raised its key rate from 1.25% to 1.25%, acting to counter inflation. But as it recalls monetary stimulus, after raising the benchmark rate twice so far, the government on Friday announced 14 trillion won ($11 billion) in additional spending, mostly to help small businesses to recover from the impact of waves of coronavirus outbreaks.

Inflation soared to 3.7% in December, and the latest rate hike “sends a strong signal that the Bank is prioritizing tackling inflation and financial imbalances,” said Alex Holmes of Capital Economics. in a report. “It’s pretty clear that more hikes are on the way. imminent,” he said.

The South Korean Kospi fell 1.4% to 2,920.75.

The Shanghai Composite lost 0.6% to 3,534.17 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was down 1% to 24,179.16. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.5% to 28,078.98.

In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.9% to 7,405.70.

The Indian Sensex was down 0.4%.

Tech companies led a sell-off on Wall Street on Thursday that pulled major indexes into the red for the week.

The S&P 500 fell 1.4% to 4,659.03. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 2.5% to 14,806.81. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5% to 36,113.62.

Shares of smaller companies also fell. The Russell 2000 slipped 16.62 points, or 0.8%, to 2,159.44.

The sale came as investors weighed corporate earnings reports and new data indicating price increase at the wholesale level. Inflation has been a key target for investors as they try to gauge the impact of rising prices on businesses, consumers and the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy in 2022.

“Investors continue to fear that the worst is yet to be seen in terms of inflation,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

The 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 1.72% from 1.73% on Wednesday night.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that its producer price index, which measures prices at the wholesale level, jumped a record 9.7% for all of 2021. The increase set a record year and provides further evidence that inflation is still present at all levels of the US economy. The report follows Wednesday’s release of consumer price data for december, which showed inflation jumped to its fastest pace in nearly 40 years last month.

Many big tech companies with strong revenue and earnings, like Apple and Microsoft, will suffer less than their counterparts with little revenue but optimistic projections, he said.

Even so, these big tech names also lost ground on Thursday. Apple fell 1.9% and Microsoft 4.2%.

Health care stocks, communication services companies and a mix of companies that rely on direct consumer spending were among the decliners. Pfizer fell 2%, parent meta platforms Facebook fell 2%, and Amazon fell 2.4%.

Industrial companies were among the few winners. Delta Air Lines rose 2.1% after announcing surprisingly strong financial results in the fourth quarter. Other airlines have also received a boost. American Airlines rose 4.5% and United Airlines rose 3.5%.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 33 cents to $81.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the basis of the international oil price, fell 15 cents to $84.32 a barrel.

The dollar weakened to 113.66 Japanese yen from 114.18 yen. The euro fell from $1.1457 to $1.1476.

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