Tue. 9:17 a.m.: Asian stocks rise ahead of Fed’s next interest rate decision

A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters today in Seoul, South Korea. Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher today ahead of a Federal Reserve decision on another possible interest rate hike amid worries about global banks. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher today ahead of a Federal Reserve decision on another possible interest rate hike amid worries about global banks.

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. Oil prices declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.9 percent on Monday after U.S., European and Japanese central banks announced measures to ease strains on the financial system, including lending more dollars if necessary.

The collapse of two U.S. banks and the takeover of troubled Credit Suisse have heightened fears other lenders might crack under the strain of repeated rate hikes to cool economic activity and inflation that is near multi-decade highs.

Traders expect the Fed to go ahead with another rate hike Wednesday but think it might be held to 0.25 percentage points, down from the 0.5 points previously expected.

“Can the Federal Reserve really continue to hike rates in the face of a banking crisis?” Clifford Bennett of ACY Securities said in a report. “There are ongoing stresses in the banking system that will only grow with further rate hikes.”

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent to 3,240.61 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.4 percent to 19,075.79.

The Kospi in Seoul rose 0.4 percent to 2,389.19 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 surged 1.2 percent to 6,979.00.

New Zealand declined while Southeast Asian markets rose.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose to 3,951.57. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.2 percent to 32,244.58. The Nasdaq composite added 0.4 percent to 11,675.54.

Swiss regulators arranged Sunday for UBS to acquire rival Credit Suisse for almost $3.25 billion.

Credit Suisse has been battling a unique set of problems for years, but they came to a head last week as its stock price tumbled to a record low.

Attention in the United States has focused on smaller and mid-sized banks.

The surge in the Fed’s benchmark lending rate to a range of 4.5 percent to 4.75 percent, up from close to zero at the start of last year, caused prices of bonds and other assets on banks’ books to fall, raising concern about their financial health.

First Republic Bank has been at the center of investors’ crosshairs in the hunt for the industry’s next victim. Its shares fell 47.1 percent after S&P Global Ratings cut its credit rating for the second time in a week.

S&P said it could lower the rating even further despite a group of the biggest U.S. banks announcing last week they would deposit $30 billion in a sign of faith in First Republic.

New York Community Bancorp jumped 31.7 percent after it agreed to buy much of Signature Bank in a $2.7 billion deal. Signature Bank became the industry’s third-largest failure earlier this month.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 75 cents to $87.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 90 cents on Monday to $67.64. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, declined 80 cents to $72.99 per barrel in London. It gained 82 cents the previous session to $73.79.

The dollar fell to 131.21 yen from Monday’s 131.32 yen. The euro declined to $1.0717 from $1.0724.


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