TOKYO – Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday amid hopes Western economies can avoid a recession despite higher interest rates to cool inflation.
Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Tokyo declined. Markets in China, India and Australia were closed for holidays.
Wall Street ended Wednesday little changed after recovering from a slump early in the day.
Investors are optimistic the United States and European economies can avoid a recession despite warnings by Federal Reserve and other central bank officials that rate hikes to cool economic growth and inflation will stay in place for an extended period.
“There’s increasing confidence the economy may not require a recession to tame the inflation beast,” said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management in a report.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 1.9% to 22,464.77 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.1% to 27,362.75.
The Kospi in Seoul gained 1.5% to 2,465.64. New Zealand, Singapore and Jakarta advanced while Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur declined.
On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index lost less than 0.1% to 4,016.22 after rebounding from a morning loss of 1.7%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered from a similar drop to end up less than 0.1%, to 33,743.48. The Nasdaq composite fell 20.91 points, or 0.2%, to 11,313.36.
Analysts are forecasting S&P 500 companies over the next couple weeks will report their first drop in quarterly earnings per share since 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Microsoft helped to lead the way lower after forecasting lower earnings than expected. It fell 4.6% early in the day but recovered to end down 0.6%.
Texas Instruments lost 1.1% after the company said it expects weaker demand across all its market outside of automotive. It was down as much as 3.1% at one point.
Traders expect the Fed to raise its benchmark lending rate by another 0.25 percentage points at its next update on Feb. 1.
That would be another reduction in the margin of increase from 0.5 percentage points last month and four hikes of 0.75 points earlier.
Many investors expect the Fed to ease off rate hike plans as economic activity cools and start to cut rates before the end of this year. The Fed has said it expects to keep rates high at least through the end of the year to extinguish inflation.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 25 cents to $80.40 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 2 cents on Wednesday to $80.15. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, added 9 cents to $86.28 per barrel in London. It retreated 1 cent the previous session to $86.12.
The dollar fell to 129.34 yen from Wednesday's 129.55 yen. The euro rose to $1.0921 from $1.0913.