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Asian Stocks Mixed, Investors Digest Higher-Than-Expected U.S. CPI Data

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By Gina Lee

Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were mixed Friday morning after the U.S. released higher-than-expected inflation data on Thursday. Investors bet price pressures will be temporary and that central banks will keep their stimulus measured unchanged for a while.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 inched down 0.08% by 10:15 PM ET (2:15 AM GMT) as a new analysis said that the country could be facing another COVID-19 surge with or without the Olympics.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 inched up 0.11%. It is working on a travel corridor with Singapore, allowing quarantine-free travel between the countries.

South Korea’s KOSPI was up 0.33% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.17%.

China’s Shanghai Composite fell 0.53% while the SZSE Component was down 0.59%.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield declined to 1.43%, its lowest point since March 2021.

In the U.S., data released on Thursday said that the core consumer price index (CPI) increased 3.8% year-on-year in May, higher than 3.4% growth in forecasts prepared by investing.com and 3.0% reading during the last session. It also grew by 0.7% month-on-month in May, above expectations but below April’s growth.

The CPI growth in May was mainly driven by sectors that were reopening businesses thanks to accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations. Despite prospective wider price pressures, investors eased their concerns that a spike in longer term borrowing costs could destabilize global markets.

It indicated that investors believed the U.S. Federal Reserve’s view that inflation will be transitory and that any changes in its current dovish monetary policy will likely happen gradually.

“The frothiness in CPI continues for now but between base effects and pent-up demand pressures, it is probably not giving a definite answer to the great inflation debate, and you need to read the bond market tea leaves,” said Anu Gaggar, senior global investment analyst at Commonwealth Financial Network, told Bloomberg. “The bond market is falling in line with the Fed’s thinking that inflation is transitory and does not warrant tapering of monetary stimulus any time soon.”

Across the Atlantic, the European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde on Thursday committed to delivering faster bond buying, although officials admitted for the first time since 2018 that the eurozone economy is no longer clouded by risks to its growth outlook.

“A sustained rise in market rates could translate into a tightening of wider financing conditions… such a tightening would be premature and would pose a risk to the ongoing economic recovery,” Lagarde said.

Investors will be monitoring the opening of the Group of Seven leaders’ summit in the U.K. on Friday.

On the data front, 376,000 filed for initial jobless claims in the U.S. during the previous week, below 370,000 figure in forecasts prepared by investing.com and 405,000 during the previous session.

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