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Asian Markets Mixed, Investors Watch out on Commodities Markets

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Friday as investors monitored moves in the commodities space after prices fell sharply on Thursday.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.19% lower at 28,964.08, while the Topix index slipped 0.87% to end the trading day at 1,946.56. South Korea’s Kospi rose about 0.1% on the day to 3,267.93.

asia markets
Nikkei 225 Index Performance Chart
Mainland Chinese stocks closed mixed, with the Shanghai composite marginally lower at 3,525.10 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.769% to 14,583.67. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose about 0.6% as of its final hour of trading.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia advanced 0.13% to close at 7,368.90.

Over in Southeast Asia, the Straits Times index in Singapore was fractionally higher, as of about 3:29 p.m. local time. Singapore’s government announced Friday that it would further ease Covid-related restrictions next week, though at a slower pace than previously announced, as local infections have not seen a significant decline.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.1%.

Investors watched for market moves in the commodities sector after a recent tumble in prices.

Shares of major Australian miners fell on Friday: Rio Tinto declined 0.61%, and BHP dropped 2.45%, while Fortescue Metals Group shed 0.84%.

Meanwhile, spot gold rose 0.84% to $1,788.16 per ounce after seeing sharp declines earlier this week from above $1,840 an ounce.

On Friday, the Bank of Japan announced its decision to hold steady on monetary policy as well as an extension the duration of its pandemic relief program.

“For the time being, the Bank will closely monitor the impact of COVID-19 and will not hesitate to take additional easing measures if necessary, and also it expects short- and long-term policy interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels,” the Japanese central bank, in its monetary policy statement.

Following that announcement, the Japanese yen traded at 110.01 per dollar, stronger than levels above 110.5 against the greenback seen yesterday.

Asian Markets Currencies and Oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.009 following a recent climb from below 91.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7534 as it struggled to recover after declining from above $0.768 earlier this week.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, adding to losses seen Thursday. International benchmark Brent crude futures slipped 0.41% to $72.78 per barrel. U.S. crude futures declined 0.24% to $70.87 per barrel.