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Asian stocks follow Wall St lower after strong US jobs data

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks followed Wall Street lower Wednesday after strong U.S. jobs data fueled expectations of further interest rate hikes and Chinese manufacturing activity weakened.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney declined. Oil prices rose more than $1 per barrel.

U.S. government data Tuesday that showed there were two jobs for every unemployed person in July appeared to support arguments the economy can tolerate more rate hikes to tame inflation that is running at multi-decade highs. Some investors had hoped the Federal Reserve would back off due to indications economic activity is cooling.

The jobs data “supported the argument for the Fed to stick to an aggressive stance,” said Edward Moya of Oanda in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.1% to 3,191.00 after an index of manufacturing showed activity contracted again in August.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.5% to 28,063.06 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 0.4% to 19,867.17.

The Kospi in South Korea gained 0.7% to 2,467.38 after July factory output declined 1.3% compared with the previous month.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.2% to 6,984.10. New Zealand advanced while Singapore and Indonesia declined. Indian markets were closed for a holiday.

Investors worry rate hikes by the Fed and other central banks in Europe and Asia to extinguish an inflation surge might derail global economic growth.

Chair Jerome Powell indicated the Fed will stick to its strategy of rate hikes. The Fed has raised rates four times this year. Two of those were by 0.75 percentage points, three times the usual margin.

Traders appear to expect a 0.75 percentage-point hike in September, a half-point in November and 0.25 points in December, according to Moya.

“If the labor market doesn’t break and the consumer remains resilient, Wall Street might start pricing in rate hikes for February and March,” Moya wrote.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.1% to 3,986.16. That brought its decline over the past five days to 5.5%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1% to 31,790.87. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.1% to 11,883.14.

The U.S. government reported there were were 11.2 million open jobs on the last day of July. That was up from 11 million in June, and June’s figure was also revised higher.

Tech stocks were among the biggest declines. Chipmaker Nvidia fell 2.1%.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained $1.02 to $92.66 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $5.37 to $91.64 on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international trading, rose $1.11 to $98.96 per barrel in London.

The dollar edged down to 138.46 yen from Tuesday’s 138.67 yen. The euro gained to $1.0026 from $1.0021.

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