Asia Markets

Asia Pacific stocks mixed as China keeps benchmark lending rate unchanged

Key Points
  • Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Wednesday.
  • China's 1-year loan prime rate (LPR) was left unchanged at 3.85%, while the 5-year LPR stood pat at 4.65%. That was largely in line with expectations from a Reuters survey of traders and analysts, where a majority forecasted no changes in either rate at the monthly fixing on Wednesday.
  • Investors also watched for market reaction to a STAT News report released overnight that raised concerns about the trial results for a potential coronavirus vaccine from Moderna.

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Wednesday as China's benchmark lending rate was left unchanged.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.79% to close at 20,595.15 while the Topix index gained 0.58% to end its trading day at 1,494.69. South Korea's Kospi ended its trading day 0.46% higher at 1,989.64.

Mainland Chinese stocks edged lower on the day, with the Shanghai composite 0.51% lower at around 2,883.74 and the Shenzhen component down 0.94% to 10,948.48. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dipped 0.1%, as of its final hour of trading.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.24% to close at 5,573.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was slightly higher.

The moves came as China's 1-year loan prime rate (LPR) was left unchanged at 3.85%, while the 5-year LPR stood pat at 4.65%. That was largely in line with expectations from a Reuters survey of traders and analysts, where a majority forecasted no changes in either rate at the monthly fixing on Wednesday.

"We didn't get any easing today on the LPR, loan prime rate, but I think that's just a matter of time," Mitul Kotecha, senior emerging markets strategist at TD Securities, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday. For his part, Kotecha said he expected more easing in rates such as the LPR and reserve requirement ratio.

"I don't think China is done, by any means," Kotecha said. "I think the growth slowdown is just really getting … into action here and we've already had warnings about a weakening in trade in the next few months, so I think that certainly should be taken at face value now."

Investors also watched for market reaction to a STAT News report released overnight that raised concerns about the trial results for a potential coronavirus vaccine from Moderna. That initial positive development had sent markets rallying earlier in the week.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 99.452 following its decline from levels above 100 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.71 per dollar after weakening from levels below 107.5 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.654 after seeing an earlier low of $0.6523.

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up fractionally at $34.68 per barrel. U.S. crude futures, on the other hand, dipped 0.28%  to $31.87 per barrel.