Asia Markets

Asia stocks mixed as virus cases stateside surge again; China keeps benchmark lending rate unchanged

Key Points
  • Shares in Asia were mixed on Monday.
  • Investors watched for market reaction to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., with more than 30,000 new infections reported on Friday and Saturday — the highest daily totals since May 1 — according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • China kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged on Monday, with the 1-year loan prime rate left at 3.85%. The 5-year loan prime rate was also kept steady at 4.65%.

Stocks in Asia traded mixed on Monday as the number of coronavirus cases stateside soared again.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.18% lower at 22,437.27 while the Topix index ended its trading day 0.23% lower at 1,579.09. South Korea's Kospi closed 0.68% lower at 2,126.73.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dipped 0.75%, as of their final hour of trading, with shares of Chinese tech giant Alibaba dropping more than 2%. Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed on the day. The Shanghai composite dipped slightly to about 2,965.27 while the Shenzhen component added 0.294% to around 11,702.44.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed above the flatline at 5,944.50.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index slid 0.18%.

Investors watched for market reaction to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., with more than 30,000 new infections reported on Friday and Saturday — the highest daily totals since May 1 — according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, an official said Sunday that the Chinese capital of Beijing is capable of screening almost 1 million people a day for the coronavirus, according to Reuters. That development came on the back of a recent cluster of infections that was found in the city.

"The world is, and accordingly markets are, grappling with conflict and caution. At every level this resonates as much as it rattles," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a note.

"From the conflict between celebrating 'peak COVID' as well as 'exit from lockdowns' and the real and present dangers of "second wave" infections risks, there must be some degree of caution," Varathan said. 

China kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged on Monday, with the 1-year loan prime rate left at 3.85%. The 5-year loan prime rate was also kept steady at 4.65%.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.488 after rising from levels below 96.8 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.93 per dollar after seeing levels above 107.4 in the previous week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6861 following its slide from levels above $0.693 last week.

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.17% at $42.26 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dipped 0.55% to $39.53 per barrel.