BANGKOK—World shares were mixed Wednesday as traders awaited the outcome of the last Federal Reserve meeting of this year.
Benchmarks rose in Paris, Tokyo, and Frankfurt but fell in Hong Kong and Shanghai after the U.S. Labor Department reported wholesale prices jumped a record 9.6 percent in November from a year earlier.
Fed policymakers end a two-day meeting Wednesday where they’re expected to speed up the withdrawal of economic stimulus measures to help tamp down inflation.
China reported its retail sales slowed in November as the country sought to extinguish coronavirus outbreaks.
The virus remains a global concern, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying omicron will likely be the dominant coronavirus variant in the 27-nation bloc by mid-January.
Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent to 15,520.92 and the CAC 40 in Paris climbed 0.7 percent to 6,941.03. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.2 percent to 7,204.90. The futures for the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 were up 0.1 percent, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 1.44 percent.
In Asian trading, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index edged 0.1 percent higher to 28,459.72 and the Kospi in Seoul added 0.1 percent to 2,989.39. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 gave up 0.7 percent to 7,327.10.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.9 percent to 23,420.76, while the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.4 percent to 3,647.63.
China reported its retail sales slowed in November, rising 3.9 percent from a year earlier compared with a 4.9 percent increase in October. Industrial production picked up slightly, growing 3.8 percent from a year earlier compared with October’s 3.5 percent.
“COVID-19 remained the key reason holding back a full recovery. Efforts to contain the virus flare-up beginning in mid-October lasted through most of November as infections reached 21 provinces, making consumers more cautious,” Mark Williams and Sheana Yue of Capital Economics said in a commentary.
A second omicron case was reported confirmed in China on Wednesday, underscoring the persisting threat from infections as new coronavirus variants emerge.
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 index fell 0.7 percent to 4,634.09. It set an all-time high on Friday, when it closed out its biggest weekly gain since February. The index is up 23.4 percent so far this year.
The Dow dropped 0.3 percent to 35,544.18. The Nasdaq fell 1.1 percent to 15,237.64. The Russell 2000 gave up 1 percent to 2,159.65.
Businesses have been dealing with supply chain problems and higher costs for months and are passing those costs to consumers, who have so far been absorbing higher prices on everything from groceries to clothing and other consumer products. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that consumer prices surged 6.8 percent for the 12 months ending in November, the biggest increase in 39 years.
The discouraging reports on inflation preceded the Federal Reserve meeting which started Tuesday.
The Fed is expected to more quickly trim its bond purchases, which have helped keep interest rates low and support the stock market and broader economy. Beyond that, investors are watching the central bank for any statements on how soon it might raise interest rates in 2022.
Wall Street is also closely monitoring any news on the omicron variant. It appears to cause less severe disease than previous versions of the coronavirus, according to an analysis of data from South Africa, but has spread quickly.
Energy sector stocks fell following a 0.8 percent drop in the price of U.S. crude oil. On Wednesday, U.S. crude gave up 60 cents to $69.13 per barrel. Brent crude, the basis for international pricing, lost 48 cents to $72.22 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar slipped to 113.69 Japanese yen from 113.73 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1271 from $1.1259.
By Elaine Kurtenbach
December 15, 2021 12:47 pm