China loan prime rate, oil and currencies

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific appeared set for a lower start on Monday, as investors look ahead to the release of China’s latest benchmark lending rate.

Futures pointed to a mildly lower open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Osaka was at 25,960, against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 25,963.

In Australia, the SPI futures contract sat at 6,345, as compared with the S&P/ASX 200‘s last close at 6,474.80.

China’s latest one-year and five-year loan prime rates are set to be announced on Monday morning. A vast majority of respondents in a Reuters snap poll predict no change to both the one-year or the five-year LPRs.

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Investors will also monitor Alibaba shares in Hong Kong after Reuters reported 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.

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

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 104.722 after a recent bounce from levels below 104.

The Japanese yen traded at 135.27 per dollar, weaker as compared to levels below 132 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6941 after dropping late last week from above $0.70.

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