Asia Pacific stocks mixed as China cuts loan prime rates; US crude plummets

Asia Pacific stocks mixed as China cuts loan prime rates; US crude plummets

Asia Pacific stocks were mixed in Monday afternoon trade as China cut its benchmark lending rate.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher by the afternoon. The Shanghai composite gained 0.3% while the Shenzhen composite edged 0.654% higher.

That came as China cut its one-year loan prime rate to 3.85% from 4.05%. The five-year loan prime rate was also reduced to 4.65% from 4.75%. The moves marked the second cut to the loan prime rates for 2020.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.16%.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 0.82% in afternoon trade while the Topix index shed 0.32%. Over in South Korea, the Kospi advanced 0.23%. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was 1.22% lower.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index declined 0.12%.

Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, as U.S. crude futures for May plunged 16.91% to $15.18 per barrel. The May contract is set to expire on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv. Meanwhile, international benchmark Brent crude futures also slipped 1.14% to $27.76 per barrel.

Coronavirus developments likely also continued to be watched, with more than 2.3 million infected globally while at least 164,000 lives have been taken, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University. Stocks globally had gotten a boost late last week after a report said patients with severe virus symptoms were quickly recovering after using remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 99.858 after crossing the 100 mark last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.82 per dollar after touching levels below 107.4 in the previous trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6355 following turbulent trading last week that saw it rising to levels above $0.64 and falling below $0.63.

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