Asia stocks mixed as investors continue seeing Ukraine crisis; China holds steady on benchmark lending rate

Asia stocks mixed as investors continue seeing Ukraine crisis

February 22, 2022: -Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday, as investors continued to watch Ukraine’s situation. Meanwhile, China left a benchmark lending rate unchanged.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan decreases 2% momentarily in morning trade before retracing a few of those losses, eventually ending the trading day 0.78% lower at 26,910.87, while the Topix index shed 0.71% to 1,910.68. South Korea’s Kospi closed mildly more down at 2,743.80.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed little changed, the Shanghai composite essentially flat at 3,490.61 while the Shenzhen component is climbing fractionally to 13,471.16. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index has rejected about 0.8% as of its final hour of trading.

China on Monday held steady on a benchmark lending rate, with the one-year loan prime rate (LPR) kept unchanged at 3.7%. That was in line with predictions from all 24 financial institutions in a snap Reuters poll.

The five-year LPR was kept unchanged at 4.6%. Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.16% higher at 7,233.60. The Straits Times index in Singapore advanced 0.17%, as of 3:15 p.m. local time.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan declined 0.3%. Russia-Ukraine tension is a convenient excuse for the stock sell-off, but it’s about over that.

Investor sentiment in the region might have improved after U.S. President Joe Biden accepted “in principle” a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Moscow had not invaded Ukraine.

On Friday, Concerns of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine have kept investors on edge, with Biden saying the U.S. believes Putin has decided to attack Ukraine “in the coming days.”

On Monday, Markets in the U.S. are closed for a holiday.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was 95.788 after seeing a high of 96.151.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.99 percent after strengthening to around 114.8 against the greenback late last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7217, against an earlier low of $0.7159.

Oil prices struggled for direction in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.17% to $93.38 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were flat at $91.07 per barrel.

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