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Interest rate anxiety hangs over Wall Street as week begins

BEIJING — Wall Street is following global stock markets lower to open a holiday-shortened week as anxiety over Federal Reserve plans for more interest rate hikes continues to weigh on investors.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.2% early Monday and futures for the S&P 500 slid 0.6%.

U.S. stock indexes ended with a weekly loss Friday after a Fed official, James Bullard, rattled investors by suggesting that in order to bring down decades-high inflation, the central bank’s base lending rate might have to be raised to as much as almost double its already elevated level.

“Bullard dimmed the light on rallies,” said Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank in a report.

Walt Disney Co. shares jumped 9% in premarket after the entertainment giant tapped its former CEO Bob Iger to return to head the company, firing his successor Bob Chapek in a move that stunned Hollywood late Sunday.

Iger said that he was “thrilled” to return and “extremely optimistic” about Disney’s future.

At midday in Europe, the FTSE 100 in London inched up 0.1%, the DAX in Frankfurt sank 0.6% and the CAC 40 in Paris retreated 0.2%.

Bullard, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, suggested the Fed’s benchmark rate might have to rise to between 5% and 7%. That would be up from its current level of 3.75% to 4% after four hikes of 0.75 percentage points, three times the Fed’s usual margin.

Investors worry repeated rate hikes by the Fed and central banks in Asia and Europe this year to cool surging inflation might tip the global economy into recession.

Traders hope signs economic activity is slowing and inflation pressures are easing might prompt the Fed to ease off its plans. Fed officials including chair Jerome Powell have warned rates might need to stay high for an extended period to extinguish inflation.

Traders expect the Fed to raise its key rate again at its December meeting but by a smaller margin of 0.5 percentage points.

In Asia, Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1.9% to 17,655.91. It was down more than 3% earlier after the territory’s leader, John Lee, tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from an Asia-Pacific meeting in Bangkok.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4% to 3,085.04 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.2% to 27,944.79.

The Kospi in South Korea fell 1% to 2,419.50 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.2% to 7,139.30.

India’s Sensex sank 0.9% to 61,132.92. New Zealand and Bangkok gained while Singapore and Jakarta declined.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 49 cents to $79.59 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.56 to $80.08 on Friday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, tumbled 51 cents to $87.11 per barrel in London. It slumped $2.16 to $87.62 the previous session.

The dollar rose to 141.91 yen from Friday’s 140.36 yen. The euro fell to $1.0243 from $1.0331.

——

McDonald reported from Beijing; Ott reported from Washington.

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