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Asia Stocks Little Changed as PBOC Keeps Benchmark Lending Rate Unchanged

Stocks in Asia were little changed in Monday morning trade as the number of coronavirus cases stateside soared again.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% higher while the Topix index traded flat. South Korea’s Kospi stood little changed.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dipped 0.3% in early trade. Mainland Chinese stocks, on the other hand, edged higher. The Shanghai composite gained 0.13% while the Shenzhen component added 0.417%. Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 hovered above the flatline. Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.06% lower.

Investors watched for market reaction to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., with more than 30,000 new infections reported on Friday and Saturday — the highest daily totals since May 1 — according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, an official said Sunday that the Chinese capital of Beijing is capable of screening almost 1 million people a day for the coronavirus, according to Reuters. That development came on the back of a recent cluster of infections that was found in the city.

China kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged on Monday, with the 1-year loan prime rate left at 3.85%. The 5-year loan prime rate was also kept steady at 4.65%.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.627 after rising from levels below 96.8 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.90 per dollar after seeing levels above 107.4 in the previous week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6844 following its slide from levels above $0.693 last week.

Oil prices nudged higher in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.66% to $42,47 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.63% to $40 per barrel.