TOKYO — Asian shares rose Wednesday, boosted by a Wall Street rally that came on positive reports on consumer confidence and job openings.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.3% in afternoon trading to 32,312.75. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.4% to 2,563.37. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5% to 18,574.12, while the Shanghai Composite inched up 0.1% to 3,139.28.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.2% to 7,297.70, after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the monthly Consumer Price Index indicator rose 4.9% in the 12 months to July.
That was lower than the expected 5.2%, marking the first time since February 2022 that the indicator fell below 5%.
“But given that it is still a distance away from the RBA’s 2% to 3% target, the central bank may continue to maintain its hawkish-pause stance for some policy flexibility, although we are likely seeing the end of its tightening process,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market analyst at IG.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 1.5% to 4,497.63, its third-straight gain and its biggest since early June. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.8% to 34,852.67, and the Nasdaq composite finished 1.7% higher, at 13,943.76.
Big tech stocks powered much of the rally Tuesday. Apple rose 2.2% and Nvidia climbed 4.2%. Advancers outnumbered decliners by 4 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Bond yields fell broadly. Markets in Europe and Asia also rose.
The latest gains came as investors reviewed reports on consumer confidence and the labor market. The Conference Board, a business research group, reported that consumer confidence tumbled in August, surprising economists that were expecting levels to hold steady around the strong July reading. Consumer confidence and spending have been closely watched amid persistent pressure from inflation.
Also on Tuesday, the government reported that job openings fell to the lowest level since March 2021, a larger drop than economists expected. The report also showed that the number of Americans quitting their jobs fell sharply for the second-straight month, clear signs that the labor market is cooling in a way that could reduce inflation.
A strong job market has been credited as a bulwark against a recession, but it has made the Fed’s mission to tame inflation more difficult. The latest data will likely be welcomed by the central bank, because fewer job openings and less quitting reduces pressure on employers to raise pay to find and keep workers.
“Markets reacted to the release of the consumer confidence and job opening reports by rallying, with both bonds and stocks up on the news as odds for a Federal Reserve rate hike at their next meeting in September fell,” said Sam Millette, fixed income strategist for Commonwealth Financial Network.
The Fed has been raising its main interest rate for more than a year to its highest level since 2001, in an effort to bring inflation back down to its 2% goal. The central bank held rates steady at its last meeting and Wall Street is betting that it will do the same at its September meeting.
Investors and economists have several more big economic reports on tap this week. The government will provide another update on the nation’s gross domestic product later Wednesday. It will also release its monthly employment report for August on Friday.
The yield on the 2-year Treasury, which tracks expectations for the Fed, fell significantly after the latest consumer confidence and job openings reports. It slipped to 4.90% from about 5.03% just before the report was out. It stood at 5.05% late Monday. The 10-year Treasury yield also fell, dropping to 4.12% from 4.21% late Monday.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 34 cents to $81.50 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 27 cents to $85.76 a barrel.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 146.23 Japanese yen from 145.87 yen. The euro cost $1.0877, down from $1.0881.
AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.