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02 Mar 2021 | 10:37

Asia report: Markets mixed, RBA stands pat on policy

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished in a mixed state on Tuesday, as Australia's central bank sated expectations by leaving interest rates at a record low. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.86% at 29,408.17, as the yen weakened 0.09% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 106.86.

Robotics specialist Fanuc was up 0.68%, while among the benchmark's other major components, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing was down 2.92% and technology giant SoftBank Group lost 0.53%.

The broader Topix index was 0.4% weaker by the end of trading in Tokyo, settling at 1,894.85.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 1.21% to 3,508.59, and the smaller, technology-centric Shenzhen Composite was off 0.7% at 2,332.76.

South Korea's Kospi gained 1.03% to 3,043.87, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong weakened 1.21% to 29,095.86.

The blue-chip technology stocks were higher as traders in Seoul returned from a long weekend, with Samsung Electronics up 1.33% and SK Hynix rising 2.12%.

"US markets bounced back with gusto last night, including a 3% rally in the tech-heavy Nasdaq index," said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould of the moves overnight.

"Asia markets had already seen a decent showing on Monday and they did their best to sustain this momentum on Tuesday, but the gains turned to losses towards the end of the session for Hong Kong.

"The Hang Seng index traded 1.2% lower with banks, insurers and construction companies dragging down the market."

Oil prices were mixed as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last flat at $63.69 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate up 0.23% at $60.78.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 ended its trading session down 0.4% at 6,762.30, as the Reserve Bank of Australia confirmed it would maintain its current policy settings.

That included leaving its cash rate target at the current record low of 0.1%.

"The current monetary policy settings are continuing to help the economy by keeping financing costs very low, contributing to a lower exchange rate than otherwise, and supporting the supply of credit and household and business balance sheets," said the central bank's governor Philip Lowe in his statement.

"Together, monetary and fiscal policy are supporting the recovery in aggregate demand and the pick-up in employment."

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was 0.35% firmer at 12,344.49, led higher by specialist dairy exporter A2 Milk, which was ahead 5.5% by the close in Wellington.

The down under dollars were in a mixed state against the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.01% at AUD 1.2863, while the Kiwi weakened 0.19% to NZD 1.3790.
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