Asian markets muted as investors await U.S. inflation data


BEIJING — Asian stock markets were slightly higher Tuesday as investors waited for an update on U.S. inflation that has been stronger than expected.

The Nikkei 225 NIK, -0.52% in Tokyo gained 0.7% while the Hang Seng HSI, -0.54% in Hong Kong sank 0.3%. The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +0.07% rose less than 0.1%.

The Kospi 180721, +0.30% in Seoul rose 0.9% while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.55% inched slightly higher. Benchmark indexes in Singapore STI, -0.84%, Taiwan Y9999, -0.46% and Indonesia JAKIDX, -0.33% gained.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed higher Monday, snapping a five-day losing streak.

Investors were watching for August inflation data due out Tuesday. Headline inflation stands above 5% as consumer and business activity revives.

The price spike has prompted fears the Federal Reserve might feel pressure to roll back easy credit and other stimulus. But Fed officials indicate they believe the surge is temporary and they will keep interest rates low until a recovery is established.

“The Fed has generally stuck to its transitory inflation view, but we think that risks may be tilted to the upside,” said Eugene Leow of DBS in a report. “In any case, excessively loose monetary policy may not increase output or employment but may worsen price pressures and distort market signals further.”

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 SPX, -0.57% rose 0.2% 4,468.73, boosted by bank, energy and communications stocks. The S&P 500 was coming off its biggest weekly drop in three months.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude CLV21, +0.68% gained 42 cents to $70.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 73 cents on Monday to $70.45. Brent crude BRNX21, +0.69%, used to price international oils, advanced 40 cents to $73.91 per barrel in London. It added 59 cents the previous session to $73.51 a barrel.

The dollar USDJPY, -0.07% rose to 110.07 yen from Monday’s 110.02 yen.

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