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Asian Markets Gain, Despite concerns on Beijing COVID-19 Restrictions

Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher on Monday, as investors monitored shares of China’s tech giants following the release of new anti-monopoly guidelines over the weekend.

Chinese tech shares were mixed as concerns that Beijing was tightening restrictions on the country’s tech giants weighed.

By the Monday market close in Hong Kong, shares of Chinese tech giants listed in the city were mixed. Tencent was higher by 0.48% while Meituan gained 1.25%. Meanwhile, JD.com declined 0.6% and Alibaba dipped 0.62%.

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation released a new set of rules that will likely put pressure on leading internet services in the country such as Alibaba’s Taobao or Tencent’s WeChat Pay, according to Reuters. Separately, regulators on Monday slapped a 3 million yuan (nearly $500,000) fine on Vipshop — an online discount retailer — over anti-competitive acts, Reuters said.

The broader Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.11% to close at 29,319.47. Mainland Chinese stocks also advanced on the day: The Shanghai composite was up 1.03% to 3,532.45 while the Shenzhen component gained 1.748% to 15,269.63.

Meanwhile, shares of South Korean automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors plunged on Monday and fell 6.21% and 14.98%, respectively.

It came after the two firms announced they were “not in talks with Apple on autonomous vehicle development,” according to CNBC’s translation of their regulatory filings.

The Kospi in South Korea lagged regionally as it declined 0.94% on the day to 3,091.24. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 surged 2.12% to close at 29,388.50 while the Topix index gained 1.75% to finish its trading day at 1,923.95.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia advanced as the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.59% to close at 6,880.70.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.36%.

In geopolitical developments, U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration was prepared for “extreme competition” with China, though his approach would be different than his predecessor.

“I’m not going to do it the way Trump did. We are going to focus on the international rules of the road,” Biden said in a CBS interview published Sunday. Biden also said during the interview that he had not spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping yet since he was sworn in last month.

 Asian Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.052 following a recent decline from levels above 91.2.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.49 per dollar, having weakened last week from levels below 104.8 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7675 following a spike last last week from levels below 0.762.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.31% to $60.12 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 1.28% to $57.58 per barrel.

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