Stocks Down on Inflation Concerns, Higher Gas Prices Drag Markets


US stock futures are trading lower hours before the opening bell on Wall Street as concerns about higher inflation, lower unemployment figures and higher gasoline prices are pushing markets down. .

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The US financial aid package, approved by the Senate on Saturday by a narrow margin, provides direct payments of up to $ 1,400 for most Americans and extends emergency unemployment benefits. It’s a victory for President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies, as final approval from Congress is expected this week.

Wall Street capped a volatile trading day to end last week with a broad rally that snapped the market’s three-day losing streak. The S&P 500 gained 2% to 3,841.94. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.9% to 31,496.30. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.6% to 12,920.15.

CHINA’S FEBRUARY EXPORTS AFTER A RECORD SINCE 2020 LEVELS DEPRESSED BY COVID-19

Smaller company stocks outperformed the overall market, as they have throughout the year. The Russell 2000 Index rebounded 2.1% to 2,192.21.

A US government report on Friday showed that employers added hundreds of thousands more jobs last month than economists expected and was an encouraging sign for the economy. But it also helped lift Treasury yields, adding to concerns that rising inflation could end a streak of ultra-low interest rates.

US stock futures are trading lower hours before the opening bell on Wall Street as concerns about higher inflation, lower unemployment figures and higher gasoline prices are pushing markets down. . (Nicole Pereira / New York Stock Exchange via AP)

Rising oil prices are part of that picture. After plummeting with the onset of the pandemic, as demand plummeted, prices have been recovering in recent months.

The devastating winter frost that hit Texas and other parts of the southern United States last month wiped out production of about 4 million barrels a day of US oil and prices rose above $ 60 a barrel.

Last week, with oil prices soaring, some observers expected the OPEC cartel and its allies to lift more restrictions and let oil flow more freely. But OPEC agreed to drop most of the restrictions, despite growing demand.

Benchmark US crude rose $ 1.27 to $ 67.36 a barrel in electronic trading Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $ 2.26 to $ 66.09 a barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the international standard, gained $ 1.36 to $ 70.72 a barrel.

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Meanwhile, Asian stocks mostly fell on Monday despite hopes for a gradual global recovery after the US stimulus package was approved by the Senate over the weekend.

Strong selling of shares in tech companies helped drag benchmark indices lower in Japan and South Korea after initial gains. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.3% after China’s foreign minister made ominous remarks about the autonomous island of Taiwan.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4% to 28,743.25. Australia’s S & P / ASX 200 rose 0.4% to 6,739.60, while South Korea’s Kospi sank 1.0% to 2,995.90. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.5% to 28,661.49, while the Shanghai Composite fell to 3,423.02.

Chinese computer chip maker SMIC fell 5.2%; mobile phone maker Xiaomi lost 7.8%; Japanese technology and energy giant SoftBank lost 2.4% and printer and copier maker Ricoh lost 6.3%.

Oil prices pushed higher, with Brent crude topping $ 70 a barrel after OPEC decided not to lift production cuts. Oil prices rose late last week after Yemeni rebels claimed they had attacked a Saudi oil facility.

At an annual press conference on the sidelines of the largely ceremonial annual session of China’s National People’s Congress, Foreign Minister Wang Yi demanded that the Biden administration reverse former President Donald Trump’s “dangerous practice” of show your support for Taiwan.

China’s claim to Taiwan, which separated from the mainland in 1949 but which Beijing claims as its territory, is an “insurmountable red line,” he said. Meanwhile, Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry and a delegate to congress, said China would not “renounce the use of force and reserve the right to take necessary measures.”

The benchmark index of Taiwan stocks fell a modest 0.2%.

Beijing data released on Saturday showed that China’s exports rose 60.6% from the previous year in the first two months of 2021, when factories reopened and global demand gradually recovered. The huge increase reflects a drop in manufacturing and exports in early 2020 at the height of the coronavirus outbreaks in China.

The gradual rollout of the vaccine in most parts of the world is also fueling optimism, although it has only just begun in some Asian nations, including Japan.

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Japan has extended a state of emergency for the Tokyo area for two more weeks until March 21, asking restaurants and other businesses to close at 8 p.m. as the government tries to keep the economy growing while reducing the spread of COVID-19 infections.

The US financial aid package, approved by the Senate on Saturday by a narrow margin, provides direct payments of up to $ 1,400 for most Americans and extends emergency unemployment benefits. It’s a victory for President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies, as final approval from Congress is expected this week.

In currency trading, the US dollar rose from 108.34 yen to 108.42 yen. The euro costs $ 1.1904, down from $ 1.1919.

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AP business writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed.

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