Tokyo's Nikkei 225 has soared to highs not seen since 1990 as a weaker yen boosts the country's exporters and falling bond yields lift investor confidence
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 has soared to highs not seen since 1990 as a weaker yen boosts the country's exporters and falling bond yields lift investor confidence AFP News

Wall Street stocks largely shrugged off a disappointing US inflation report Thursday, while Japan's Nikkei finished above 35,000 for the first time since 1990.

The Department of Labor's consumer price index, a key measure of inflation, was up 3.4 percent from a year ago and up slightly from November.

The data had been keenly anticipated for its implications on potential Federal Reserve interest rate cuts.

But after a meandering session, US indices finished near flat.

"The CPI was not a good number... but (it) wasn't bad enough to give us a real reason for a sell-off either," said Steve Sosnick of Interactive Brokers.

"And that's why we were sort of muddling around at slightly lower levels."

Global equity markets had powered higher in the closing months of last year on expectations the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank could soon begin loosening monetary policy as pricing pressures eased.

Leading analysts have predicted the Fed could undertake its first interest rate cut in March or May.

"The rise in headline inflation should dampen expectations for an imminent rate cut as the Fed will be conscious of pinning inflation down to its two percent target before releasing the pressure," said Richard Flax, chief investment officer at the European wealth manager Moneyfarm.

While European equities fell, Tokyo tacked on 1.8 percent to finish above 35,000 points for the first time since early 1990 as a weak yen boosted exporters.

The pace of the Nikkei's recent gains "deserves a speeding fine," joked senior strategist Ryuta Otsuka of Toyo Securities.

"The biggest factor behind the rally is most likely hopes that the Japanese economy will finally get back to normal after years of deflation," he told AFP.

The Nikkei's all-time high was 38,915 on December 29, 1989, during Japan's boom years from around 1986 to 1990.

Elsewhere, Bitcoin surged after the New York open, rising to nearly $49,000 on news that the US Securities and Exchange Commission had given the go-ahead for wider trading of the world's biggest cryptocurrency in the form of exchange-traded funds.

The SEC approved the plans for 11 ETFs to list on leading exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange "on an accelerated basis," it said.

ETFs are traded on public markets, granting investors exposure to price movements in asset prices without taking direct ownership of the underlying assets.

Bitcoin, which had rallied strongly in recent months on expectations of the SEC approval, fell back to just over $46,000 later Thursday.

New York - Dow: UP less than 0.1 percent at 37,711.02 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.1 percent at 4,780.24 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: FLAT at 14,970.19 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.0 at 7,576.59 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,387.62 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.9 percent at 16,547.03 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 4,442.28 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.8 percent at 35,049.86 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.3 percent at 16,302.04 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 2,886.65 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0969 from $1.0973 on Wednesday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2770 from $1.2742

Euro/pound: UP at 85.94 pence from 86.11 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $72.02 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.8 percent at $77.41 per barrel