Oct 6, 2020

Asian Markets Closing Report: Asia-Pacific stocks higher as Australia's central bank keeps policy steady


Eustance Huang

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

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.75% by the afternoon.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.48% as shares of conglomerate Softbank Group jumped 2.22%. The Topix index also gained 0.47%. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.58%.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia added 0.29%. 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 $0.7185 following the RBA’s monetary policy decision, after seeing an earlier low of $0.7169.

Meanwhile, shares of gold firms Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings in Australia surged more than 10% each in Tuesday trade, 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 0.75%.

Markets in China are closed on Tuesday for a holiday.

.N225Nikkei 225 IndexNIKKEI23433.73121.590.52
.HSIHang Seng IndexHSI23944.22176.440.74
.AXJOS&P/ASX 200ASX 2005962.1020.500.35
.KS11KOSPI IndexKOSPI2365.907.900.34
.FTFCNBCACNBC 100 ASIA IDXCNBC 1009197.4356.120.61

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 93.396 following an earlier low of 93.348.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 105.65 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 0.34% at $41.43 per barrel. U.S. crude futures rose 0.25% to $39.32 per barrel.

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