World Shares Higher as Inflation Shows Signs of Abating

BANGKOK (AP) -- Shares were mostly higher in Europe and Asia on Tuesday as investors watched for the latest moves by central banks, given signs that inflation is abating in many regions.

The OECD reported inflation in leading economies fell to 8.8% in February from 9.2% in January. Inflation rates remained above 20% in Hungary, Latvia and Turkey, but overall, inflation fell in 23 of the 38 OECD economies.

Easing energy prices were a major factor, though oil prices have surged after producing countries announced Sunday they will cut output from May 1 through the end of the year. That could potentially slow broader efforts to tame inflation.

Germany's DAX gained 0.6% to 15,684.77 and the CAC 40 in Paris was 0.5% higher, at 7,379.09. Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.1% higher, to 7,681.11. The future for the S&P 500 was up less than 0.1% and that for the Dow industrials was unchanged.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney edged 0.2% higher to 7,236.00 after Australia's central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged at 3.60%

"The Board took the decision to hold interest rates steady this month to provide additional time to assess the impact of the increase in interest rates to date and the economic outlook," the Reserve Bank of Australia said in a statement, citing the usual lag between interest rate changes and their impacts.

While Australia's economy is much smaller than that of the U.S. or European Union, its central bank and that of New Zealand tend to "set the tone for monetary policy cycles," Ipek Ozkardeskaya of said in a commentary.

South Korea reported its consumer inflation rate fell to a lower-than-expected 4.2% in March from a year earlier from 4.8% the month before. That has raised expectations that the central bank will keep its key interest rate at 3.5% when it meets next week.

Regional central banks have been varying their strategies as inflation wanes in some places but remains stubbornly high in others. Vietnam's central bank eased its benchmark rate on Monday to reflect a slowdown in the economy. Japan has kept its key interest rate at minus 0.1% and China has been easing credit to alleviate pressures on its vital property sector.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand was due to make a decision on interest rates on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.4% to 28,287.42, while the Shanghai Composite index picked up 0.5% to 3,312.56. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.7% to 20,274.59.

Shares fell in Bangkok. Markets were closed in India and Taiwan.

On Monday, big gains for energy stocks helped offset losses for some big technology stocks on Wall Street. The S&P 500 rose 0.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1%. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.3%.

Exxon Mobil and other oil producers leaped after Saudi Arabia and other producers said they'll cut production by 1.15 million barrels per day from May until the year's end. Less oil pumped means higher prices, as long as demand stays steady.

Oil prices soared 6.3%. Higher prices for fuel revived fears about inflation and dented one of the hopes that has helped steady stocks recently, that sharp hikes to interest rates may soon end.

Exxon Mobil jumped 5.9%, Marathon Oil 9.9% and BP 4.3%.

A barrel of U.S. crude oil was 33 cents higher at $80.75 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $4.75 to settle at $80.42 on Monday.

Brent crude, the international standard, rose 22 cents to $85.15 in London. It gained $5.04 to $84.93 per barrel on Monday and is roughly back to where it was a month ago.

But prices are well below where they were in March 2022, when Brent topped $130 per barrel after Russia's invasion of Ukraine raised worries about energy supplies.

Beyond raising gasoline prices and other costs for everyone, costlier oil could confound the expectation that slowing inflation might lead the Federal Reserve to ease its interest rate hikes.

In other trading Tuesday, the U.S. dollar rose to 132.92 Japanese yen from 132.44 yen late Monday. The euro climbed to $1.0928 from $1.0905.