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Asian markets mixed; ASX 200 down 0.3 percent as RBA holds rates steady

Asian shares traded mixed as investors digested the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision to keep cash rates unchanged at 1.5 percent.

Australia's ASX 200 finished down 0.29 percent, or 15.981 points, at 5,413.6, weighed by a 0.49 percent drop in the heavily-weighed financials sub-index. Australia's energy sector bucked the trend to trade up 0.14 percent, along with the materials sector which was up 0.3 percent.

The Reverse Bank of Australia (RBA) in a statement cited reasons such as continued growth, low inflation and mixed labor market data as contributing factors to hold interest rates steady.

There were also mentions of the prolonged period of low commodity prices keeping Australia's terms of trade lower than they have been in recent years and of the rising housing prices.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed up 0.26 percent, or 44.35 points, at 17,081.98; Across the Korean strait, the Kospi ended up 0.31 percent, or 6.45 points, at 2,066.53.

Chinese mainland markets were higher, with the Shanghai composite finishing up 0.63 percent, or 19.353 points, at 3,091.448 and the Shenzhen composite closing up 1.491 percent, or 30.088 points, at 2,048.19. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was up 0.43 percent at 3:13 p.m. local time.

Vernon Wiley | Getty Images

Line shares traded up 1.12 percent, having risen by more than 3 percent earlier Tuesday, after the popular Japanese popular messaging app launched a low-priced mobile phone service called Line Mobile on Monday, offering a basic data plan for as little as 500 yen ($4.80) per month.

South Korea's government reached the decision to provide Hanjin Shipping with up to 100 billion won ($91 million) of long-term, low-interest funding, Reuters said, citing Yonhap.

The troubled container shipper also announced Tuesday that it would raise 100 billion won on its own to fund the unloading of cargo, 40 percent of which of which would be raised from its chairman's private funds, Reuters added. Hanjin's shares soared 29.91 percent on Tuesday.

Hanjin Shipping, also South Korea's largest shipping company, had filed for court receivership last Wednesday after its creditors pulled funding support.

U.S. markets were shut for the Labor Day public holiday on Monday.

"With U.S. markets closed yesterday, trade was primarily driven by Europe and the post-Brexit U.K. economic data ...[which] has consistently beat market consensus expectations as many different data sets seem to be recovering after the initial shock directly after the Brexit vote," Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG, wrote in a Tuesday note of European trade.

The U.K's Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) jumped to 52.9 in August from July's seven-year low at 47.4, showing resilience in the services industry. Data last week from the U.K.'s manufacturing and construction sectors in August also strengthened.

Meanwhile, Russia and Saudi Arabia confirmed they had agreed to cooperate to stabilize the oil market and limit output, although experts largely dismissed the statement from the two major oil producers as "lip service."

Crude oil prices initially jumped on the news, but pared gains later during Europe's session; U.S. crude futures touched highs of $46.53, while Brent futures hit a session high of $49.40, a peak since August 30, Reuters reported.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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During Asian trade on Tuesday, U.S. crude futures were up 1.87 percent at $45.26 a barrel, while Brent futures inched up 0.21 percent to $47.72.

In currency markets, the Australian dollar was trading up 0.9 percent against the U.S. dollar at 0.7646, after the RBA announced it would hold rates steady.

"The RBA is probably waiting to see how [previous rate cuts] will filter through the domestic economy and how it will impact inflation which has been quite low," said Emily Dabbs, economist at Moody's Analystics, in a Capital Connection interview.

"We're expecting the next quarterly print of inflation, which is due out just before the November meeting, will probably remain below the lower-bound of their target range and that will prompt another cut," she added.

The U.S. dollar stood at $95.694 against a basket of currencies, while U.S. dollar/Japanese yen remained at the 103 handle, trading at 103.41 as of 3:16 p.m. HK/SIN time.

The pound sterling was trading at $1.3341 against the greenback at 3:16 p.m. HK/SIN time, after rising to $1.3375 during Europe trading, its highest since mid-July.

On the economic data front, the U.S. will release its ISM non-manufacturing index later on Tuesday.

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