Asia Markets: Asian markets mixed as China cuts benchmark lending rates

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Asian markets were mixed in early trading Monday, after China cut its benchmark lending rates as expected.

China’s one-year loan prime rate was lowered by 20 basis points from 4.05% to 3.85%, while the five-year rate was cut by 10 basis points, from 4.75% to 4.65%. It was the second such cut this year, as China moves to support its wavering economy, which is trying to restart from a coronavirus-related shutdown.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was also seen in Japan, as data showed exports fell more sharply than expected in March.

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -1.12% fell 0.9%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.18% gained 0.3%. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.30% rose 0.3, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.65% advanced 0.7%. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, +0.20% ticked up 0.3%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -0.11% , Singapore STI, +0.13% and Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.64% were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -1.25% fell 0.8%.

“The weekend was relatively quiet on the news front by recent standards,” wrote Jefftey Halley, senior Asia-Pacific market analyst at Oanda, in a note Sunday. “With a vacuum of news, and after some strong rallies last week, equity markets in Asia could go either way from here, as momentum does not seem particularly strong in either direction. Headline trading will be the order of the day.”

U.S. stock futures were lower Sunday, as Wall Street braces for disappointing earnings reports. Dow futures YM00, -0.22% were down 0.2% despite the best two-week stretch by the index DJIA, +2.99% in 82 years.

Crude’s woes continued, with the May futures contract for U.S. crude oil CLK20, -16.31% plunging more then 15% late Sunday, although Brent crude for June delivery BRNM20, -1.24% , the global benchmark, dipped only slightly.

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