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Asian Markets Mixed, Investors React to Biden-Xi Talks

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Tuesday as investors reacted to a virtual meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed 1.27% higher at 25,713.78. Shares of gaming hardware firm Razer in Hong Kong surged 11.46% after Reuters reported, citing sources, that executives at the firm are leading a consortium plan to value the company at up to 35 billion Hong Kong dollars (about $4.49 billion).

Asian Markets Chart
Hang Seng Index Performance Chart

Mainland Chinese stocks ended the trading day lower, with the Shanghai Composite falling 0.33% to 3,521.79 while the Shenzhen component fell 0.153% to 14,613.97.

Japanese stocks closed higher, with the Nikkei 225 up 0.11% to 29,808.12 while the Topix index climbed 0.11% to 2,050.83. In South Korea, the Kospi finished the trading day fractionally lower at 2,997.21.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.37%.

The virtual meeting between Biden and Xi, which marked the closest communication between the two leaders since Biden took office in January, kicked off on a positive note with cordial remarks. Following the meeting, public statements emphasized ways for the two economic powerhouses to avoid conflict, though points of tension were noted.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Asia fell 0.67% to close at 7,420.40 after the Reserve Bank of Australia’s governor pushed back against calls for a rate hike next year.

“The latest data and forecasts do not warrant an increase in the cash rate in 2022,” said RBA Governor Philip Lowe, responding to expectations that most advanced economy central banks will raise interest rates by the end of 2022.  Investors have been watching for clues on when major central banks could raise policy interest rates amid inflation concerns.

Minutes from the Australian central bank’s November monetary policy meeting minutes released Tuesday showed the RBA expected to hold steady on the cash rate till 2024.

“Given the latest data and forecasts, the central scenario for the economy continued to be consistent with the cash rate remaining at its current level until 2024,” the minutes said.

Asian Markets Oil and Currencies

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.08% to $82.94 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.89% to $81.60 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.452 after recently rising from below 95.2.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.21 per dollar, weaker than levels below 113.9 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7338 following an earlier high of $0.7368.

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