Global stocks lower after Fed gives no details of rate hikes

Masked pedestrians move past a monitor showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index, at a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher Thursday after Federal Reserve policymakers indicated they are leaning toward more decisive action on inflation but set no firm targets. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets and Wall Street futures were mixed Thursday after Federal Reserve policymakers indicated they are leaning toward more decisive action on inflation but set no firm targets.

London and Tokyo declined while Shanghai and Frankfurt advanced.

Wall Street closed mixed Wednesday after notes from the latest Fed meeting showed officials suggested a faster pace of interest rate hikes “would likely be warranted.”

The minutes “showed a lack of clear commitments on the size of rate hikes and balance sheet reduction,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a report. That suggests the Fed’s attitude might be “less hawkish than previously thought.”

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.2% to 7,590.34 and Frankfurt’s DAX advanced 0.2% to 15,397.44. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.4% to 6,991.50.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 0.3%.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 gained 0.1% while the Dow slipped 0.2%. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.1%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained less than 0.1% to 3,468.04 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 0.3% to 24,792.77.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.8% to 27,232.87 gave up 0.8% to 27,232.87 after January exports rose by 9.6% over a year earlier, well below expectations.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 1% to 2,755.56 after the government reported the economy added 1.1 million jobs in January and the unemployment rate edged lower.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.2% to 7,296.20 and India’s Sensex advanced 0.1% to 58,075.98.

New Zealand and Singapore rose while Jakarta retreated.

Investors are trying to figure out how stock prices will react as the Fed and other central banks prepare to withdraw economic stimulus to cool inflation.

According to the Fed’s notes, officials agreed at their January meeting that faster rate hikes would be needed “if inflation does not move down” as the central bank’s policymaking committee expects.

As recently as December, Fed officials forecast inflation would fall to 2.6% from a four-decade high of 5.8%. Most analysts expect Fed officials to raise that forecast at their next meeting in March.

On Monday, James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, repeated his call for the Fed to take the aggressive step of raising its benchmark short-term rate by a full percentage point by July 1. Esther George, president of the Kansas City Fed, expressed support for a more gradual approach. Mary Daly of the San Francisco Fed declined to commit herself to more than a modest hike next month.

Rising prices have prompted concern consumers might pull back on spending.

Despite that, the government reported Wednesday that January retail sales surged 3.8%. That compares with the previous month’s decline of 2.5%.

Investors also are watching the potential for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Markets rallied Tuesday after Moscow said it removed some troops near the Ukraine border, but Western officials expressed doubt about that.

Russia is one of the biggest oil producers. Any military action that disrupts supplies would jolt prices and global industry.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude fell 81 cents to $92.85 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.59 to $93.66 on Wednesday. Brent crude, used as the price basis for international oils, sank 70 cents to $94.11 per barrel in London. It rose $1.53 the previous session to $94.81.

The dollar declined to 115.09 yen from Wednesday’s 115.41 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1368 from $1.1391.