European Shares Fall as Selling Kicks In After Recent Gains

TOKYO (AP) -- European indexes fell in early trading and U.S. futures were down as selling pressure kicked in Wednesday after a few days of strong gains.

Asian shares advanced, led by a nearly 6% jump in Hong Kong's share benchmark as markets there caught up after reopening from a holiday.

Easing concerns about interest rate hikes by central banks have helped push markets higher in the past few days, but worries over inflation persist.

Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.2% to 7,002.15 ahead of a speech by British Prime Minister Liz Truss where she was expected to defend her economic plans, including tax cuts that have roiled markets.

Truss says she will stick with her plan to reshape Britain's economy through tax cuts and deregulation in a bid to end years of sluggish growth and create "a new Britain for the new era."

France's CAC 40 fell 0.7% to 5,996.89 in early trading, while Germany's DAX slipped 0.8% to 12,574.14. The future for the S&P 500 was down 0.7% while that for the Dow industrials also lost 0.7%.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed more 2.8% while the S&P 500 surged 3.1%. The Nasdaq composite climbed 3.3% and the Russell 2000 advanced 3.9%.

In Asia on Wednesday, New Zealand's share benchmark rose 0.8% after its central bank hiked its benchmark interest rate to 3.5%, saying inflation remained too high and labor scarce.

New Zealand's share benchmark rose 0.8% after its central bank hiked its benchmark interest rate to 3.5%, saying inflation remained too high, most recently at 7.3%, and labor scarce. The half-point rate hike was the fifth in a row by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand since February.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 5.9% to 18,087.97, catching up with gains elsewhere as markets reopened following a holiday Tuesday. Markets in mainland China remained closed for a holiday.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.5% to finish at 27,120.53. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.7% to 6,815.70, helped by a smaller-than-expected 25 basis points interest rate hike on Tuesday.

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.3% to 2,215.22.

Analysts said the latest data on South Korea's inflation may push the Bank of Korea to raise interest rates at its meeting set for next week, but such hikes were expected to slow in pace as inflation is brought under control.

"We expect headline inflation to rise again in October. Gasoline prices will likely decline further, but city gas and power rates were raised at the beginning of October and fresh food prices will also probably rise ahead of winter," said a report by Robert Carnell, regional head of research Asia-Pacific at ING.

Investors have been looking for signs that central banks might ease up on aggressive rate hikes aimed at taming the hottest inflation in four decades. The rate hike by Australia's central bank was smaller than previous ones.

Investors are watching closely as central banks raise interest rates to make borrowing more difficult and slow economic growth to try to tame inflation.

Economic growth is already slowing globally and the U.S. economy contracted during the first two quarters of the year, which is considered an informal signal of a recession.

Wall Street will get a more detailed look at employment in the U.S. this week, with a report on hiring by private companies due later Wednesday, the latest tally of weekly applications for unemployment benefits Thursday and the government's monthly jobs report for September on Friday.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 46 cents to $86.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It surged $2.89 to $86.52 on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard for pricing, lost 37 cents to $91.43 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 144.34 Japanese yen from 144.20 yen. The euro cost 99.50 cents, down from 99.87 cents.