Asian shares fall as rising energy costs fan inflation fears


A man wearing a face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Shares retreated in Asia on Tuesday as surging prices of oil, coal and other energy added to concerns over inflation. - AP

HONG KONG, Oct 12 (AP): Shares retreated in Asia on Tuesday as surging prices of oil, coal and other energy added to concerns over inflation.

Benchmarks declined in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Oil prices advanced, having closed above $80 per barrel in New York after trading briefly above $81 per barrel on Monday for the first time in seven years.

Costs of oil, coal and natural gas have been climbing, adding to price pressures that might lead the Federal Reserve and other central banks to pull back more quickly on their support for markets.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.9% to 28,230.61, while the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.3% to 7,280.70. In Seoul, the Kospi fell 1.4% to 2916.38

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gave up 1.7% to 24,908.11 and the Shanghai Composite index sank 1.8% to 3,527.59.

Technology company shares fell after the Wall Street Journal reported that the government was inspecting financial ties with private sector companies.

Shares in e-commerce giant Alibaba Group lost 4.2% while search engine company Baidu declined 4%.Tencent Holdings, which operates the popular WeChat messaging service, dropped 2.9%.

Shares also fell in India and Taiwan, but rose in Jakarta and Bangkok.

Energy demand has bounced back faster than output as economies recover from the pandemic, driving prices higher. Other factors, including a shortage of truck drivers, shipping disruptions, flooding of coal mines in China and drought that has dented hydropower generation are also pushing prices higher.

"Energy crisis uncertainty will likely keep crude prices heading higher until the oil market seems likely it is heading towards balance. The natural gas shortage is not going away anytime soon and that will keep providing additional demand for crude," Edward Moya of Oanda said in a commentary.

US benchmark crude oil gained 17 cents to $80.69 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 1.5% to $80.52 per barrel on Monday.

Brent crude, the international pricing standard, picked up 25 cents to $83.90 per barrel.

On Wall Street, stocks closed broadly lower Monday, with the S&P 500 down 0.7% at 4,361.19. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also fell 0.7%, to 34,496.06, and the Nasdaq fell 0.6% to 14,486.20. Most sectors finished in the red.

Technology and communications stocks had some of the biggest losses. Facebook fell 1.4% and Intuit fell 1.1%.

Bond trading was closed for the Columbus Day holiday.

Investors are looking ahead to the beginning of company earnings this week.

Companies in a wide range of industries are warning that supply chain problems and higher raw materials costs could crimp their financial results for the rest of the year. Wall Street is closely monitoring whether those higher costs and resulting higher prices for goods will hurt consumer spending, which is a key driver of economic growth.

Stocks have been swaying between between gains and losses as investors try to better gauge the direction of the economic recovery through the rest of the year.

Banks will be among the first big companies to report their latest financial results and give investors more insight into how companies are faring amid concerns over the lingering virus pandemic and rising inflation.

JPMorgan Chase delivers its results on Wednesday. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup will report results on Thursday.

Delta Air Lines will report its latest results on Wednesday. The airline industry is still struggling to recover from the pandemic shutdowns that began 18 months ago. Investors will be closely monitoring the industry's results to see how much of an impact the summer surge of COVID-19 cases had on the industry.

Investors are also looking ahead to economic data this week that could shed more light on what's going on with inflation. The Labor Department will release its Consumer Price Index on Wednesday and its Producer Price Index on Thursday. The reports detail pressure from inflation on consumers and businesses.

The U. dollar slipped to 113.13 Japanese yen from 113.32 yen late Monday. The euro climbed to $1.1565 from $1.1553. - AP

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