Global Stocks Mostly Rise Wednesday

TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares were mostly higher Wednesday after new data showed inflation in the U.S., while still at a 40-year high, was not as bad as some analysts had expected.

Benchmarks finished higher in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia. U.S. futures and oil prices also rose.

France's CAC 40 inched up less than 0.1% in early trading to 6,538.59, while Germany' DAX lost 0.5% to 14,055.65. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.1% to 7,583.85. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures up 0.5% at 34,291.00. S&P 500 futures rose 0.6% to 4,419.00.

Shares fell in Shanghai after the Chinese government reported that exports rose nearly 16% in March from a year earlier while imports were flat.

The easing of a COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai was another encouraging factor. Shanghai released 6,000 more people from the central facilities where they were under medical observation to guard against the coronavirus, the government said Wednesday, though the lockdown of most of China's largest city was being maintained in its third week.

"The good news is that China will begin to come out of lockdowns at some point, and there will be an injection of stimulus of some form by the authorities to reboot communities and the economy. The light at the end of the tunnel is reasonably bright for China," Clifford Bennett, chief economist at ACY Securities, said in a commentary.

But Bennett added: "Do not expect a return to rampant growth, however."

New Zealand's share benchmark edged 0.1% lower after the central bank lifted its key interest rate to 1.5%, a sharp increase from the previous 1%, as it tries to tame inflation running at nearly 6%. The increase followed three earlier increases of 0.25%.

The Reserve Bank committee said it's trying to quickly get back to a more neutral setting after it cut rates to near zero when the coronavirus pandemic hit. It said inflation pressures have been worsened by supply disruptions and the war in Ukraine.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.9% to 26,843.49. Australia's S&P/AS 200 added 0.3% to 7,479.00. South Korea's Kospi surged 1.9% to 2,716.49. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.3% to 21,374.37, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.8% to 3,186.82.

In Tokyo trading, shares of Shionogi dropped 11% after the Japanese pharmaceutical company reported that animal tests for its experimental oral drug to treat COVID-19 showed it may be a risk for fetal development. Japanese media reported the drug won't be prescribed to pregnant people or those who may be pregnant.

Investors have been weighing the inflation data in the U.S. for March, although overall it remained at its highest level in 40 years. Some analysts urged caution.

"The fact remains that pricing pressures are still elevated at their highest level in 40 years and the near-term outlook for an aggressive tightening of policies to cool demand stays unaltered," said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 29 cents to $100.89 a barrel. It climbed 6.7% to settle at $100.60 on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 44 cents to $105.08.

The worry is the U.S. Federal Reserve may be so aggressive about hiking interest rates that it forces the economy into a recession. Higher interest rates can discourage all kinds of investments.

More swings may be in store for stocks as companies prepare to report their earnings for the first three months of the year. Delta Air Lines, JPMorgan Chase and other big-name companies will kick off the reporting season on Wednesday.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 126.07 Japanese yen from 125.37 yen, The euro cost $1.0837, up from $1.0827.