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Asia-Pacific Stocks Mixed as SMIC Shares Drop Further in Hong Kong

Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday, as the coronavirus situation in parts of North Asia remained serious.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher by their close, with the Shanghai composite up 0.76% to 3,420.57 while the Shenzhen component surged 2.026% to 14,134.85.

China on Monday kept its Loan Prime Rates unchanged, in line with expectations from analysts and traders in a recent Reuters poll. The one-year and five-year LPR were kept at 3.85% and 4.65%, respectively.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.72% to close at 26,306.68. Hong Kong-listed shares of China’s largest chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, or SMIC, was down 3.63% after the firm the U.S. Commerce Department added the firm to its blacklist, limiting its ability to access certain U.S. technology.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.18% to close at 26,714.42 while the Topix index shed 0.23% to finish its trading day at 1,789.05. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.23% higher at 2,778.65.

Shares in Australia declined, with the S&P/ASX 200 down fractionally on the day to 6,669.90. The downward moves came as the other states imposed travel restrictions on Sydney, leaving the country’s most populous city was isolated from the rest of the nation amid a growing cluster of coronavirus cases, according to Reuters.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded dipped 0.32%.

The coronavirus situation in parts of North Asia, such as Japan and South Korea, remained severe and could have weighed on investor sentiment.

New coronavirus cases in South Korea hit a fresh record high on Sunday, according to local news agency Yonhap. Over in Japan, the country’s capital Tokyo saw its monthly tally of new coronavirus cases topping 10,000 for the first time on Sunday, according to Kyodo News.

Still, there have been positive developments on the coronavirus vaccine front, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. That makes it the second vaccine approved in the U.S., following Pfizer and BioNTech’s.

The U.S. Congress also reached a $900 billion coronavirus relief package on Sunday, following months of negotiations.

Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 3.23% to $50.57 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also dropped more than 3% to $47.44 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.596 — off a recent slump below the 90 level.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.55 per dollar following levels below 103.2 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7534, having risen from levels below $0.752 last week.