Bangkok: Asian stock markets mostly fell on Wednesday, taking a lead from Wall Street where investors fretted over the prospect of higher interest rates after a measure of US inflation rose.
Several of Asia’s markets have risen 70% or more this year and investors are reluctant to back further gains while worries continue to simmer about mounting government debt in the West and the strength of the economic recovery.
In the US on Tuesday, stocks fell for the first time in five days and Treasurys slipped after a jump in wholesale prices stoked concerns that the Federal Reserve would be forced to raise interest rates.
The Fed isn’t expected to raise rates from their record low level at this week’s two-day policy meeting but the economic data was a reminder the central bank could be forced to act sooner than expected to keep inflation at bay.
Japan’s stock market bucked the regional trend as banks jumped amid reports they will be given 10 to 20 years to meet stricter capital rules. The banking regulator, however, said no agreement was in place.
The Nikkei 225 stock average was up 88.29 points, or 0.9%, at 10,170.97.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 190.36, or 0.9%, to 21,623.56 and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.2% to 1,662.85.
Elsewhere, Australia’s benchmark lost 0.3% after figures showed the economy slowed again in the third quarter as the boost from government stimulus spending faded.
Taiwan’s market dropped 0.8% while China’s Shanghai index advanced 0.1%.
Oil prices hovered below $71 a barrel in Asia after a US crude supply report showed an unexpected increase last week.
Benchmark crude for January delivery was down 1 cent to $70.68 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, the contract added $1.18 to settle at $70.69.
In currencies, the dollar fell to 89.50 yen from 89.67 yen. The euro was little changed at $1.4531.