Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as Chinese growth concerns persisted and investors waited for further direction from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who will testify before Congress on Wednesday. A cautious undertone prevailed due to a federal holiday in the U.S. on Monday.
The dollar traded higher after a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken yielded no signs of progress from either side on a range of bilateral issues. However, both sides indicated a willingness to cooperate.
Gold held steady while oil prices dropped on concerns that China’s post-COVID recovery is faltering.
Chinese shares fell despite the country’s central bank cutting two key benchmark interest rates in a bid to counter the post-COVID growth slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.
The People’s Bank of China cut two key policy rates, including a benchmark for corporate loans and another used to price mortgages by 10 basis points each, the first such reductions in 10 months.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.5 percent to 3,240.36, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.5 percent to 19,607.08.
Japanese shares recovered from an early slide to finish on a flat note after Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway raised its stake in five Japanese trading firms to an average of more than 8.5 percent.
The Nikkei 225 Index finished marginally higher at 33,388.91, while the broader Topix Index ended 0.3 percent lower at 2,283.85. Marubeni, Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. rallied 2-4 percent.
Seoul stocks ended slightly lower after China’s moderate rate cut and comments from some Fed officials backing the need for further interest rate hikes the year-end. The Kospi slipped 0.2 percent to 2,604.91, dragged down steel, energy and chemical stocks.
Australian markets rallied for the seventh consecutive session to reach a two-month high after minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s June meeting showed that a decision to hike interest rates in June was “finely balanced.”
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.9 percent to 7,357.80, marking its highest closing level since April 20. The broader All Ordinaries Index settled 0.8 percent higher at 7,548.50.
The big four banks rose between 0.8 percent and 1.7 percent. Woodside Energy Group jumped 2.2 percent after the company said it would develop the Trion oil project in the Gulf of Mexico at an estimated cost of $7.2 billion.
Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.3 percent to 11,789.37. The government announced an enquiry into the banking sector amid concerns that lenders are making excessive profits.
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