Asia Markets

Asia-Pacific stocks rise; Reserve Bank of New Zealand keeps rates unchanged

Key Points
  • Japan's government on Tuesday decided to extend the Covid-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas to Sept. 12, local news agency Kyodo News reported.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand announced Wednesday that it would keep its monetary settings unchanged.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia were higher on Wednesday, with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand keeping interest rates unchanged despite expectations of a hike.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.59% to close at 27,585.91 while the Topix index climbed 0.44% on the day to 1,923.97. Japan's government on Tuesday decided to extend the Covid-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas to Sept. 12, local news agency Kyodo News reported.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher. The Shanghai composite gained 1.11% to 3,485.29 while the Shenzhen component rose 0.721% to 14,454.11. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 0.35% higher, as of its final hour of trading.

South Korea's Kospi closed 0.5% higher at 3,158.93. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia lagged as it finished the trading day 0.12% lower at 7,502.10.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.46% higher.

RBNZ holds rate steady

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand announced Wednesday that it would keep its monetary settings unchanged, leaving the official cash rate at 0.25%. Analysts had expected that New Zealand could be the first advanced economy in Asia-Pacific to raise interest rates in the pandemic era of easy monetary policy.

In a release, the New Zealand central bank said the decision was "made in the context" of the government's imposition of a nationwide lockdown. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the lockdown on Wednesday following the discovery of a Covid case in Auckland.

Following that decision, the New Zealand dollar traded at $0.692, following a drop from above $0.696 yesterday.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 282.12 points to 35,343.28 while the S&P 500 slipped 0.71% to 4,448.08. The Nasdaq Composite shed 0.93% to 14,656.18.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.074 following a recent jump from below 92.8.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.57 per dollar, weaker than levels below 109.5 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7261 as it struggles to recover after falling from above $0.732 earlier in the week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with Brent crude futures rising 0.78% to $69.57 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.66% to $67.03 per barrel.