European Stocks Higher, Asia Falls Ahead of US Inflation

BEIJING (AP) -- European stock markets opened higher while Asia fell Wednesday ahead of the release of U.S. inflation data that traders worry will show upward pressure on prices still is too strong for the Federal Reserve to ease off interest rate hikes.

London, Frankfurt and Wall Street futures gained. Shanghai and Tokyo retreated. Oil prices edged lower.

Data on Wednesday are expected to show headline U.S. inflation in July eased from the previous month's four-decade high of 9.1%. But a survey by FactSet found traders expect core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy, leaving rent and other costs, to edge higher. That is despite other data that show economic activity cooling.

Anything above 8% is "still too high" for the Fed, Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank said in a report.

"The fight to tackle inflation is far from over," Tan said.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London gained less than 0.1% to 7,489.23 and the DAX in Frankfurt advanced 0.3% to 13,575.20. The CAC 40 in Paris added less than 0.1% to 6,495.28.

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

On Tuesday, the S&P fell 0.4% while traders waited for more evidence of how aggressively the Fed might pursue more rate hikes. The Dow slipped 0.2% and the Nasdaq lost 1.2%.

The Fed has raised rates four times this year, including twice by 0.75 percentage points, triple its usual margin. Investors expect another hike of 0.75 percentage points in September after data last week showed hiring was stronger than forecast.

Investors worry efforts by the Fed and other central banks in Europe and Asia to cool inflation that is at multi-decade highs might derail global economic growth.

Fed officials acknowledge there is a danger the U.S. economy might tip into recession, but some point to the strong job market as evidence it can tolerate more rate hikes.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5% to 3,230.02 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo sank 0.7% to 27,819.33. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong plunged 2% to 19,610.84.

The Kospi in Seoul fell 0.9% to 2,480.88 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 was 0.5% lower at 6,992.70.

India's Sensex lost less than 0.1% to 58,826.80. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets retreated.

Markets also have been rattled by Russia's war on Ukraine, which caused a spike in prices of oil, wheat and other commodities, and uncertainty about Chinese anti-virus measures that disrupted manufacturing and trade.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 61 cents to $89.89 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 26 cents to $90.50 on Tuesday. Brent crude, the price basis for international trading, shed 59 cents to $95.72 per barrel in London. It declined 34 cents the previous session to $96.31.

The dollar declined to 134.95 yen from Tuesday's 135.18 yen. The euro rose to $1.0222 from $1.0205.