Asia Markets

Asia-Pacific stocks higher as Australia's central bank keeps policy steady

Key Points
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday announced its decision to maintain the current policy settings.
  • Meanwhile, shares of gold firms Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings in Australia surged 10.64% and 9.58%, respectively. The sharp gains came after the two announced a 16 billion Australian dollar ($11.5 billion) merger.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump left the hospital to return to the White House, where he will continue being treated for the coronavirus following his positive diagnosis last week.
  • Markets in China were closed on Tuesday for a holiday.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were higher on Tuesday as the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) kept its current policy settings on hold.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.9% on the day to 23,980.65.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.52% to close at 23,433.73 as shares of conglomerate Softbank Group jumped 2.41%. The Topix index also gained 0.52% to end its trading day at 1,645.75. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.34% to close at 2,365.90.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia added 0.35% on the day to 5,962.10. The country's balance on goods and services declined 43% from July to August on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to trade data released Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In a statement announcing the central bank's monetary policy decision, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said: "The Board continues to consider how additional monetary easing could support jobs as the economy opens up further."

"That's a pretty clear statement that (the RBA thinks) they can do things that will support jobs," Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac Economics, told CNBC following the Australian central bank's announcement. "I'm feeling quite confident that our forecast that they'll move next months is well and truly and in play."

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7152 following the RBA's monetary policy decision, after seeing an earlier high around $0.72.

Meanwhile, shares of gold firms Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings in Australia surged 10.64% and 9.58%, respectively. The sharp gains came after the two announced a 16 billion Australian dollar ($11.5 billion) merger.

"It's a fantastic transaction," Bill Beament, executive chairman of Northern Star, told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" on Tuesday. "We're in a very powerful position as a combined entity in years to come ... to continue looking at ... growing the business."

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.68%.

Markets in China were closed on Tuesday for a holiday.

Investors monitor Trump's health developments

Investor focus was likely on U.S. President Donald Trump's health, as he left the hospital to return to the White House, where he will continue being treated for the coronavirus following his positive diagnosis last week.

The U.S. president said prior to his departure that he planned to be promptly be back on the campaign trail, with less than a month to the upcoming presidential election in November.

Trump's doctors said Monday the president's condition has "continued to improve" over the past 24 hours, though White House physician Dr. Sean Conley warned that "he may not be entirely out of the woods yet."

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.507 following an earlier low of 93.335.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 105.55 per dollar after weakening from levels below 105.6 yesterday.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.12% to $41.34 per barrel. U.S. crude futures rose slightly to $39.24 per barrel.

Correction: This article was updated to accurately reflect details of the Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings merger announcement.