Asian Markets

Asian Markets Edge Higher, Reserve Bank of New Zealand Keeps Rates Unchanged

Shares in Asia were higher on Wednesday, with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand keeping interest rates unchanged despite expectations of a hike.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.59% to close at 27,585.91 while the Topix index climbed 0.44% on the day to 1,923.97. Japan’s government on Tuesday decided to extend the Covid-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas to Sept. 12, local news agency Kyodo News reported.

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Nikkei 225 Performance Chart
Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher. The Shanghai Composite gained 1.11% to 3,485.29 while the Shenzhen component rose 0.721% to 14,454.11. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.35% higher, as of its final hour of trading.

South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.5% higher at 3,158.93. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia lagged as it finished the trading day 0.12% lower at 7,502.10.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.46% higher.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand announced Wednesday that it would keep its monetary settings unchanged, leaving the official cash rate at 0.25%. Analysts had expected that New Zealand could be the first advanced economy in Asia-Pacific to raise interest rates in the pandemic era of easy monetary policy.

In a release, the New Zealand central bank said the decision was “made in the context” of the government’s imposition of a nationwide lockdown. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the lockdown on Wednesday following the discovery of a Covid case in Auckland.

Following that decision, the New Zealand dollar traded at $0.692, following a drop from above $0.696 yesterday.
Asian Markets Currencies and Oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.074 following a recent jump from below 92.8.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.57 per dollar, weaker than levels below 109.5 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7261 as it struggles to recover after falling from above $0.732 earlier in the week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with Brent crude futures rising 0.78% to $69.57 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.66% to $67.03 per barrel.

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