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South Korea drops more than 2%; China keeps benchmark lending rate unchanged

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Monday morning trade, as investors monitored market reaction to the release of China’s latest benchmark lending rates.

In South Korea, the Kospi led losses among the region’s major markets as it dropped 2.22%, with shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics declining more than 2%.

The Shanghai Composite in mainland China sat slightly lower while the Shenzhen Component gained 0.824%.

China’s one-year and five-year loan prime rates were both left unchanged on Monday. That matched the forecast in a Reuters poll, where a vast majority of respondents had predicted no change to both the one-year or the five-year LPRs.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dipped 0.43%. Shares of Alibaba shares in Hong Kong fell more than 2%, despite Reuters reporting Friday that China’s central bank has accepted Alibaba-affiliate Ant Group’s application to form a financial holding firm, reviving hopes for a potential public listing for Ant.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan traded 1.11% lower while the Topix index fell 0.96%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.5%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.44% lower.

Markets in the U.S. are closed on Monday for a holiday. The S&P 500 last week had its worst week since 2020 as investors grappled with the prospect of a potential recession ahead as major central banks like the U.S. Federal Reserve hike rates to fight inflation.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 104.661 after a recent bounce from levels below 104.

The Japanese yen traded at 135 per dollar, weaker as compared to levels below 132 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6932 after dropping late last week from above $0.70.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.17% to $112.93 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dipped 0.11% to $109.44 per barrel.

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