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Asian stocks mixed after Wall St retreats on concern economy weakening

BEIJING (AP) – Asian stock markets were mixed on Tuesday after Wall Street fell on concern the US economy may be weakening following a report that showed growth in service industries slowing.

Tokyo and Hong Kong rose while Shanghai and Sydney declined. Oil prices retreated.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.2 per cent on Monday after an industry group’s index of activity in construction, hospitality and other services fell to a three-year low in May. That conflicted with hopes raised by data last week that showed unexpectedly strong hiring in May, suggesting a potential US recession brought on by interest rate hikes might be farther away.

“Weakness is emerging and that should be more noticeable in the coming months,” Edward Moya of Oanda said in a report.

Australia’s central bank lifted its benchmark interest rate on Tuesday for a 12th consecutive time to 4.1 per cent and warned further rises could follow. The Reserve Bank of Australia boosted the cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point following a higher-than-expected 6.8 per cent annual inflation rate for the January-March quarter.

The S&P ASX 200 in Sydney shed 0.9 per cent to 7,149.00.

A pedestrian passes by the electronic screen of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on June 6. PHOTO: AP

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3 per cent to 3,222.35 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.6 per cent to 19,220.23.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.7 per cent to 32,454.78 after government data showed Japanese wages rose one per cent over a year earlier in April but growth slowed from the previous month’s 1.3 per cent.

India’s Sensex opened down 0.3 per cent at 62,599.57.

New Zealand and Singapore declined while Bangkok and Jakarta advanced. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 declined to 4,273.79 after the Institute for Supply Management reported its service industry index declined to 50.3 from April’s 51.9 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity increasing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6 per cent to 33,562.86. The Nasdaq composite slipped 11.34, or 0.1 per cent, to 13,229.43.

The majority of stocks sank after a weeks-long rally carried Wall Street to a 10-month high.

Apple fell 0.8 per cent after unveiling a long-rumoured headset that will place its users between the virtual and real world. It will cost USD3,500 when it is released early next year.

Traders are worried rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and central banks in Europe and Asia to cool inflation that was at multi-decade highs will push the global economy into a recession. They hope signs of slowing US activity will prompt the Fed to postpone or scale back a possible additional rate increase at its meeting this month.

The US government is due to release an update on inflation next week ahead of the Fed meeting.

Even if the Fed puts off a rate hike this month, Wall Street is betting on another increase in July after officials examine more data.

High interest rates led to three high-profile US bank failures and one in Switzerland that rattled financial markets. Manufacturing also has been weakening.

Last week’s data showed that US employers unexpectedly accelerated hiring in May, while increases in workers’ wages diminished.

That helped propel Wall Street to the brink of a “bull market,” or an increase of 20 per cent in the S&P 500 over its mid-October low.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude lost 36 cents to USD71.79 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 41 cents to USD72.15 on Monday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, sank 34 cents to USD76.37 per barrel in London. It advanced 58 cents the previous session to USD76.71.

The dollar fell to 139.45 yen from Monday’s 139.63 yen. The euro gained to USD1.0729 from USD1.0715.

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