Asian Markets

Asian Pacific Stocks Mixed, China Maintains Benchmark Lending Rate

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade as China kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 1.1% as of its final hour of trading, leading to gains among major markets in the region.

Asian Markets Chart
Hang Seng Index Performance Chart

Shares of Chinese tech firms listed in the city surged, with Tencent up 1.6% while Alibaba soared 6.92% and Meituan jumped 3.29%. The Hang Seng Tech index also gained 2.69%.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed lower, with the Shanghai composite slipping 0.17% to 3,587 while the Shenzhen component dipped 0.328% to 14,452.25.

China on Wednesday kept the one-year loan prime rate (LPR) unchanged at 3.85% while the five-year LPR was also held steady at 4.65%. That was in line with expectations from a majority of traders and analysts in a snap Reuters poll who had predicted no change in both the one-year loan prime rate as well as the five-year LPR.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese real estate firms mostly slipped on Wednesday as developments surrounding debt-ridden China Evergrande Group and signs of slowing property sales weighed on investor sentiment.

In Wednesday afternoon trade, China Vanke fell 2.14% while Country Garden declined 1.15%. Sunac, on the other hand, rose 0.12%. The Hang Seng Properties Index hovered 0.42% higher.

Evergrande shelved plans to sell a majority stake in its property services business,

Official data released Wednesday also showed growth of new home prices in China stalling in September for the first time since Feb. 2020, according to Reuters. China Beige Book’s Leland Miller told CNBC on Tuesday that China needs new growth drivers as its property sector slows down.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 0.14% to close at 29,255.55 while the Topix index edged fractionally higher to 2,027.67. Shares in Australia advanced, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 0.53% higher at 7,413.70.

South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.53% on the day to 3,013.13. While the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.42%.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday slashed its 2021 economic growth forecast for Asia, now expecting the region to grow by 6.5% this year. That compared against the IMF’s April forecast for a 7.6% expansion.

Asian Markets Currencies and Oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.774 following a recent bounce from below 93.6.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.34 per dollar, weaker than levels below 114 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7481 following yesterday’s climb from below $0.745.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures slipping 0.78% to $84.42 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.76% to $82.33 per barrel.

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