Global stocks lower after Fed moves up rate hike forecast

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BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets were mostly lower Thursday after the Federal Reserve indicated it might ease off economic stimulus earlier than previously thought.

London and Frankfurt opened lower while Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney fell. Shanghai and Hong Kong advanced.

U.S. futures were lower after Fed policymakers on Wednesday estimated their benchmark rate would rise twice by late 2023, earlier than a previous forecast of no hikes before 2024. The Fed indicated it sees the U.S. economy improving faster than expected.

Ultra-low rates from the Fed and other central banks have propelled a global stock market rebound from last year’s plunge amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Fed may have delivered a more hawkish message for markets than many would have expected,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a report. Still, Yeap said, differing views among board members suggests “much will still depend on how the economic recovery will play out.”

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.3% to 7,165.60 and Frankfurt’s DAX was off less than 0.1% at 15,699.25. The CAC 40 in Paris retreated 0.1% to 6,645.49.

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

The S&P 500 index fell 0.5% on Wednesday after Fed projections showed some of its board members expect short-term interest rates to rise by half a percentage point by late 2023.

The Dow lost 0.8% and the Nasdaq composite shed 0.2%.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.9% to 29,018.33 while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2% to 3,525.60. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.4% to 28,558.59.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange said it suffered technical problems as a wave of internet outages hit financial institutions, airlines and other companies across the globe. The exchange said later its websites were back to normal.

The Kospi in Seoul sank 0.4% to 3,264.96 and India’s Sensex lost 0.2% at 52,375.76.

Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.4% to 7,359.00 after the government reported employment rose by 115,200 in May, up 8.1% from its low a year ago.

New Zealand, Singapore and Jakarta declined while Bangkok advanced.

The Fed’s announcement Wednesday reflected growing confidence in the U.S. economy as more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus and business activity revives.

Investors have worried the Fed and other central banks might feel pressure to withdraw stimulus to cool rising inflation. Fed officials have said they believe inflation will be short-lived, a stance they repeated Wednesday.

Fed chairman Jerome Powell said conditions have improved enough to start discussing when to slow bond purchases. The Fed is buying $120 billion a month to inject money into financial markets and keep longer-term interest rates low.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 1.55% from 1.50% late Tuesday. The two-year yield, which moves more closely with expectations for Fed policy, rose to 0.20% from 0.16%.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 27 cents to $71.89 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 3 cents on Wednesday to $72.15. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, shed 26 cents to $74.13 per barrel in London. It gained 40 cents the previous session to $74.39.

The dollar gained to 110.63 Japanese yen from Wednesday’s 110.50 yen. The euro fell to $1.1949 from $1.2016.