Asia-Pacific shares mixed as investors monitor Biden-Xi talks

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Tuesday trade as investors watched a virtual meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher, with the Shanghai composite up about 0.3% while the Shenzhen component gained 0.509%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 1.05%.

Japanese stocks were muted, with the Nikkei 225 in Japan slightly higher while the Topix index dipped fractionally. In South Korea, the Kospi fell about 0.1%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.29% higher.

The virtual meeting between Biden and Xi, which marked the closest communication between the two leaders since Biden took office in January, kicked off on a positive note with cordial remarks.

Both leaders called for increased communication and said it would be better to meet in person.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia lagged the broader region as it fell about 0.8% after the Reserve Bank of Australia’s governor pushed back against calls for a rate hike next year.

“The latest data and forecasts do not warrant an increase in the cash rate in 2022,” said RBA Governor Philip Lowe, responding to expectations that most advanced economy central banks will raise interest rates by the end of 2022.  Investors have been watching for clues on when major central banks could raise policy interest rates amid inflation concerns.

Minutes from the Australian central bank’s November monetary policy meeting minutes released Tuesday showed the RBA expecting to hold steady on the cash rate till 2024.

“Given the latest data and forecasts, the central scenario for the economy continued to be consistent with the cash rate remaining at its current level until 2024,” the minutes said.

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Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 12.86 points to 36,087.45 while the S&P 500 was near flat at 4,682.80. The Nasdaq Composite dipped fractionally to 15,853.85.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.422 after recently rising from below 95.2.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.14 per dollar, weaker than levels below 113.9 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7353 following its bounce from below $0.73 seen late last week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.74% to $82.66 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.59% to $81.36 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report

Correction: This article was updated to accurately reflect that the Reserve Bank of Australia released minutes from its monetary policy meeting in November, not the decision.



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