Inflation Concerns Rattle Global Markets, But U.S. Futures Gain

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Global stocks retreated Thursday on concerns about inflation, but U.S. futures rallied modestly, suggesting American markets could snap a three-day losing streak. 

By early afternoon in Hong Kong, the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index had lost 1%. Indexes in South Korea, Japan, Australia and the Chinese mainland also all retreated. 

U.S. stock futures strengthened, with Nasdaq-100 futures standing 0.4% higher and S&P 500 futures adding 0.3%. U.S. stocks had dropped Wednesday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 to their steepest three-day declines since late October, after data for April showed a sharp rise in consumer prices.

Dwyfor Evans, head of macro strategy for the Asia-Pacific region at

State Street Global Markets,

said the 4.2% increase in consumer prices compared with a year earlier triggered debates about whether “inflation is actually more of an issue than we were led to believe and whether the Federal Reserve is going to have to be a little bit more aggressive.”

Still, Mr. Evans said a clearer picture would emerge only with a longer series of data on jobs and inflation. He said U.S. Treasury yields suggested that inflation expectations were still relatively contained. 

On Thursday in Hong Kong, U.S. Treasury prices rose. That pushed yields, which move in the opposite direction, slightly lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 1.685%, according to Tradeweb, down from 1.693% on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the region, Taiwan’s benchmark Taiex shed 0.8%, putting it on course for a correction after a steep selloff in the previous session. 

In Tokyo, shares in

SoftBank Group

plunged by more than 6%, even after the technology investor reported the highest-ever annual profit for a Japanese company. In a note to clients, Jefferies analyst

Atul Goyal

said the lack of a new buyback plan was disappointing, after SoftBank concluded an earlier program totaling $23 billion.

Bitcoin plunged 14% to $49,873, according to CoinDesk, after Tesla Chief Executive

Elon Musk

said his company had suspended accepting the cryptocurrency as payment for vehicles. 

Write to Xie Yu at

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