Asia Markets

Asia-Pacific shares mixed as U.S. election uncertainty remains; Fed holds rates near zero

Key Points
  • Investors watched results from the U.S. election, with the spotlight on a few battleground states such as Arizona and Pennsylvania.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) released its monetary policy statement, and said the pandemic will have "long-lasting effects" on the Australian economy, and GDP will "unlikely" return to its pre-pandemic level till the end of 2021.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday stateside that it kept interest rates unchanged near zero, noting in its post-meeting statement that economic activity remains "well below" levels prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Friday as investors continued to wait for a result from the U.S. election.

Mainland Chinese stocks were lower by their close, with the Shanghai composite down 0.24% to about 3,312.16 while the Shenzhen component shed 0.402% to around 13,838.42. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.14%, as of its final hour of trading.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.91% higher at 24,325.23 while the Topix index added 0.52% to finish its trading day at 1,658.49. South Korea's Kospi edged 0.11% higher to close at 2,416.50.

Stocks in Australia advanced on the day, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.82% to 6,190.20.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.23%.

Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 1.69% to $40.24 per barrel. U.S. crude futures slipped 1.78% to $38.10 per barrel.

Investor focus on Friday likely remained on the U.S. election with the spotlight on a few battleground states such as Arizona and Pennsylvania. Based on NBC News' tally, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has racked up 253 electoral votes, leaving him 17 shy of the 270 needed to win the White House.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 542.52 points higher at 28,390.18. The S&P 500 rose 1.95% to end its trading day at 3,150.45 while the Nasdaq Composite surged 2.6% to close at 11,890.93. Thursday also marked the first time since 1982 that the Dow and S&P 500 rose at least 1% in four straight sessions.

Central bank watch

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) released its monetary policy statement for November.

The central bank said the coronavirus pandemic will have "long-lasting effects" on the Australian economy, and GDP will "unlikely" return to its pre-pandemic level till the end of 2021.

"Overall, the economy is expected to be noticeably smaller at the end of the forecast period than anticipated prior to the pandemic, partially because of a sharp slowing in population growth," said the RBA.

Following that release, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7261, after seeing an earlier high of $0.7284.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday stateside that it kept interest rates unchanged near zero, noting in its post-meeting statement that economic activity remains "well below" levels prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.613 after its decline earlier this week from levels above 93.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.46 per dollar, having strengthened from levels above 104.4 against the greenback this week.