BANGKOK – Shares fell Friday in most Asian markets after China reported a stronger than expected rise in prices that could prompt authorities to act to cool inflation.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rebounded after falling the day before. Shares declined in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney and Seoul.
On Thursday, stocks closed moderately higher on Wall Street, lifted by gains in large technology companies that benefit from lower bond yields. But an increase in jobless claims dented some of the buying enthusiasm.
China reported that consumer prices rose in March due to a jump in fuel prices, while producer prices climbed at the fastest pace in more than four years.
The consumer price index rose 0.4% in March compared with minus 0.2% in February, as fuel prices jumped nearly 12% from a year earlier. Prices paid by manufacturers rose 4.4% from a year earlier.
Inflation reflects rising demand as China's economy leads the world recovery from the pandemic. Worries that stronger growth might spur inflation that regulators in many major economies would then move to cool, partly by raising interest rates, have been overhanging the markets for the past several months.
Added to that, a fresh round of U.S. sanctions, this time against seven Chinese supercomputer makers, has revived concern over trade friction between the two largest economies, said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda.
“Asian markets are once again adopting a more cautious posture today. Geopolitics is never far from the surface, even if it is often lost in the global recovery noise," Halley said in a report.
The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.7% to 3,456.74 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong also fell 0.7% to 28,798.07. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gave up 0.2% to 6,985.20 and the Kospi in Seoul declined 0.1% to 3,137.84.
Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to 29,814.51.
Shares in Sony Corp. rose 2.7% after the company signed an exclusive movie distribution deal with Netflix.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 index gained 0.4% to 4,097.17, another record high following records set on Monday and Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2%, to 33,503.57. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite climbed 1% to 13,829.31.
Small company stocks, which have been outpacing the broader market this year, also had a good showing. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 0.9%, to 2,242.60. The index is up 13.6% so far this year, while the S&P 500, which tracks large companies, is up 9.1%.
Stocks have benefited this week as bond yields, which had been steadily ticking higher, retreated from highs hit earlier in the month.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which influences interest rates on mortgages and other loans, fell to 1.63% from 1.65% late Wednesday. It had been as high as 1.75% on Monday.
That pullback in yields took some pressure off technology stocks, which have slipped over the last few months as yields jumped, making those shares look pricey. The sector has also seen choppy trading as investors shift more money into companies that stand to benefit from the economic recovery.
Apple rose 1.9%, Microsoft gained 1.3% and Amazon added 0.6%.
Investors are showing cautious optimism about the economic recovery, especially in the U.S., where vaccine distribution has been ramping up and President Joe Biden has advanced the deadline for states to make doses available to all adults to April 19.
But it's clear the recovery has a long way to go. The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week rose again last week, as many businesses remain closed or partially shut down due to the pandemic.
In remarks to the International Monetary Fund Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said a number of factors are putting the nation “on track to allow a full reopening of the economy fairly soon.”
In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 11 cents to $59.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 17 cents to $59.60 on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 2 cents to $63.18.
The U.S. dollar rose to 109.32 Japanese yen from 109.25 yen. The euro fell to $1.1904 from $1.1917.
AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.