Associated Press


Stocks sink in Hong Kong and Shanghai

Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Wednesday.

Associated Press

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TOKYO — Asian shares were mixed Wednesday as a wait-and-see mood set in following another — though more modest — day of sell-offs on Wall Street.

Worries about inflation are weighing on investors’ minds, including in Asia. Inflation data for Singapore released earlier in the week showed inflation was still going strong, with core inflation headed higher to 4.8% year on year for July. Food price inflation was at 6.1%.

In the U.S., a report on new homes also set off pessimism about a possibly imminent recession. A slowdown in the American economy would be devastating for export-reliant Asia.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 NIK, +0.53% slid 0.5% in morning trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.66% added 0.6% and South Korea’s Kospi 180721, +0.33% rose 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +2.69% dipped 1.3%, while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.82% shed 1.4%. Benchmark indexes in Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.15% and Singapore STI, +0.91% were little changed, while stocks fell in Taiwan Y9999, +1.20% .

The next big event circled on the calendar is a speech Friday by Jerome Powell, the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve. He’ll be speaking at an annual symposium held by the Fed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which has been the site of major market-moving speeches in the past.

“As we approach Jackson hole, economic risks are seemingly revealing in various forms ranging from disappointment in housing data to manufacturing survey,” said Tan Boon Heng at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

Stocks drifted to modest losses Tuesday on Wall Street, as steadying Treasury yields helped calm the market following its worst tumble in months. The S&P 500 SPX, +1.53% dipped 9.26 points, or 0.2%, to 4,128.73 after flipping between small gains and losses through the day.

Volatility has returned  to Wall Street following what had been a strong summer as worries rise about how aggressively the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates to knock down high inflation. Recent comments from some Fed officials have cooled hopes the Fed may end up less forceful than feared.

A report showed that sales of new homes slowed more than economists expected last month. The housing industry has been one of the hardest hit by this year’s turnaround in interest rates. As the Fed has jacked up its key overnight rate, mortgage rates have climbed too and put a chill on the industry.

Such weak data on the U.S. economy raises worries that a recession may indeed be on the way, but it also could encourage the Fed to take it easier on rate hikes. Worries about a slowing economy stretch around the world, and the value of one  euro dropped below $1  amid concerns about Europe in particular.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude CLV22, +3.06% fell 28 cents to $93.46 a barrel. Brent crude BRNV22, -2.83% , the international standard, dropped 40 cents to $99.82 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar USDJPY, -1.06% inched up to 136.84 Japanese yen from 136.72 yen.