TOKYO – Asian stock markets rose Wednesday after Wall Street hit a high following an uptick in U.S. inflation and an order by regulators to suspend use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine.
Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney rose, while Tokyo was off less than 0.5%.
On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index closed 0.3% higher in choppy trading. Tech and consumer stocks gained on optimism the vaccine rollout will allow business activity to return to normal. J&J declined after U.S. regulators suspended use of its single-dose vaccine to investigate possibly dangerous blood clots.
The U.S. government reported consumer prices increased by a stronger-than-expected 0.6% in March, the fastest rate since 2012. Higher inflation normally fuels fears interest rates might be raised to keep prices stable, but the Federal Reserve has said the economy will be allowed to “run hot” to ensure a recovery is in place.
Traders “took the well-telegraphed inflation ‘pick-up’ in stride,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report. Market also are “seemingly unfazed” by the J&J suspension.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4% to 3,408.51 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.3% to 29,676.30. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.2% to 28,849.09.
The Kospi in Seoul was up less than 0.1% at 3,171.18 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 7,022.30. New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Singapore declined.
Investors have been encouraged by the rollout of coronavirus vaccines despite renewed disease outbreaks that have prompted some governments to tighten or reimpose business and trade curbs.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose to 4,141.59. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 33,677.27. The Nasdaq, which has more technology stocks, gained 1.1% to 13,996.10.
Apple rose 2.4% and Microsoft gained 1%. Technology stocks have been boosted by expectations Americans will shift even more to online buying and entertainment following the pandemic.
Johnson & Johnson fell 1.3%. Moderna, which also makes a COVID-19 vaccine, climbed 7.4%.
Worries about the potential loss of a vaccine option also pulled down companies that are counting on pandemic restrictions easing. American Airlines slipped 1.5% and Delta Air Lines fell 1.1%.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell to to 1.62% from Monday's 1.67%. JPMorgan Chase fell 1.2% and Wells Fargo lost 2.4%.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 39 cents to $60.57 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract advanced 48 cents on Tuesday to close at $60.18. Brent crude, the international price standard, gained 43 cents to $64.10 per barrel in London. It added 39 cents the pervious session to $63.67 a barrel.
The dollar declined to 108.87 yen from Tuesday's 109.09 yen. The euro rose to $1.1961 from the previous sessions's $1.1946.