Asia Markets

Major Asian markets mostly rise as China keeps its loan prime rate unchanged

Key Points
  • Shares in Asia were mostly higher on Monday.
  • The People's Bank of China kept the one year and five year loan prime rates unchanged for January.
  • Shares of Chinese drugmakers and facial mask firms surged amid concerns over a coronavirus outbreak in the the country.

Stocks in major Asian markets were mostly higher on Monday, with the People's Bank of China (PBoC) keeping the loan prime rate (LPR) unchanged.

Mainland Chinese stocks saw gains on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.66% to about 3,095.79 while the Shenzhen composite was 1.311% higher at around 1,829.95. The Shenzhen component also gained 1.47% to 11,115.88.

Shares of Chinese drugmakers and facial mask firms also surged amid concerns over a coronavirus outbreak in the the country. Jiangsu Sihuan Bioengineering and Shandong Lukang Pharmaceutical saw their stock surge by about 10%, their daily movement limit. Meanwhile, facial mask maker Shanghai Dragon also soared around 10%.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong, however, slipped 0.6% as of its final hour of trading.

The moves came as the People's Bank of China kept the one year and five year loan prime rates unchanged for January.

"We still expect some changes to the LPR at some point this year, even though we're not seeing that as early as like the first month of the year right now," Kevin Leung, executive director of investment strategy at Haitong International Securities, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Monday.

"The phase one of the trade deal has been ... signed right now, so i think (the Chinese authorities) would take a few months to see if anything is going on or if there's any further improvements made or if there's any deterioration in ... the second phase when that happens," Leung said. "If there's any more stimulus policies coming in, I think it will be coming in the second quarter of the year."

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.18% to close at 24,083.51 despite shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing falling 1.58%. The Topix index also advanced 0.5% to finish its trading day at 1,744.16.

South Korea's Kospi added 0.54% to close at 2,262.64 as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics jumped 1.79% after the firm announced some leadership changes, according to a Reuters report.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia saw gains as well, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.22% to end its trading day at 7,079.50.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was fractionally lower.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.588 after seeing a spike from levels below 97.4 on Friday.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.17 per dollar after weakening from levels below 109.8 last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6886 after declining from levels above $0.692 in the previous trading week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.05% to $65.53 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also advanced 0.94% to $59.09 per barrel.