NEW YORK – Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday after a bond sell-off on Wall Street fueled anxiety about a possible U.S. economic slowdown and Australia raised interest rates.
Shanghai and Tokyo advanced while Hong Kong and Seoul declined. The yen, trading at two-decade lows, fell further to below 132 to the dollar.
Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.3% on Monday and the market price of a 10-year Treasury bond fell. That increased its yield, or the difference between the day's price and the payout at maturity.
The difference between the short- and long-term Treasury yields is narrowing, which is “making me a little nervous,” because it suggests investors think a U.S. recession is more likely, said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report.
“I don’t think the U.S. is at stagflation yet,” or a period with high inflation and low growth, “but if oil stays above $120.00 a barrel, it might soon be,” Halley said.
The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.2% to 3,243.17 after Chinese authorities eased anti-virus restrictions that shut down businesses in Shanghai and other major cities.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.4% to 28,032.94 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.5% to 21,544.06.
Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 sank 1.4% to 7,110.00 after the Australian central bank raised a key interest rate by 0.5 percentage points, its biggest margin in 22 years, to cool inflation that is at a two-decade high.
The Kospi in Seoul tumbled 1.6% to 2,628.61 and India's Sensex opened down 1.1% at 55,060.01. New Zealand and Singapore declined while Jakarta advanced.
Markets are swinging between gains and losses as investors weigh evidence about whether the Fed's rate hikes can cool inflation that is running at a four-decade high without tipping the U.S. economy into recession.
On Monday, the S&P 500 rose to 4,121.43 after being up as much as 1.5% during the day. The index is 13.5% below its Jan. 3 peak.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up less than 0.1%, to 32,915.78. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.4% to 12,061.37.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury, or the difference between the market price and the payout if held to maturity, jumped back above 3% to 3.04%, up from 2.95% late Friday.
The Treasury yield is moving toward its levels from early and mid-May. Then, it reached its highest point since 2018 amid expectations for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates aggressively.
Buyers of long-term bonds usually demand a higher payout in exchange for tying up their money for longer periods. A flattening of the yield curve, or the long-term payout falling to match short-term bonds, is seen as an indicator of a possible recession because it shows investors expect economic conditions to be worse than they are now.
Economists at Goldman Sachs said in a research note they still see the Fed and its chair, Jerome Powell, on course to walk the line successfully and engineer a “soft landing” for the economy. That was more encouraging than some of the warnings that dragged on markets last week, including one from JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who said he’s preparing for an economic “hurricane.”
On Wall Street, companies in the solar power industry were some of the biggest gainers after President Joe Biden ordered emergency measures to increase U.S. manufacturing of solar panels and exempted panels from Southeast Asia from tariffs for two years.
Twitter slipped 1.5% after Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened to call off his deal to buy the company, saying Twitter was refusing to hand over data about possible fake accounts. Shares of Tesla rose 1.6%.
In currency markets, the yen fell to 132.89 to the dollar from Monday's 132.01.
The yen has weakened because Japanese interest rates have stayed near record lows while rates are rising in the United States and Europe. That helps Japanese exporters but pushes up the prices consumers and manufacturers pay for imported goods and materials.
The euro fell to $1.0673 from $1.0691.
Benchmark U.S. crude gained 62 cents to $119.12 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 37 cents the previous day to $118.50. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, advanced 56 cents to $120.07 per barrel in London. It lost fell 21 cents the previous session to $119.51.