Central bank decisions, BOJ, dollar

A currency trader monitors exchange rates in a trading room at KEB Hana Bank in Seoul on June 21, 2021.

JUNG YEON-JE | AFP via Getty Images

SINGAPORE – Asia-Pacific markets traded mostly lower on Friday, following overnight losses on Wall Street as investors assessed the monetary policy decisions of two key central banks.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.92% while the Topix index was down 1.62%. Mainland Chinese stocks also fell, with the Shanghai composite falling 0.86% while the Shenzhen component was down 1.21%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 0.93% while the Hang Seng Tech technology index fell 2.3%.

Shares of Chinese tech companies listed in Hong Kong sold off sharply: shares of Alibaba fell 3.56%, JD 3.51%, Meituan 4.95%, search engine giant Baidu fell 1.08% and Tencent 2.61%.

The United States said Thursday it was imposing trade restrictions on more than 30 Chinese research institutes and entities over human rights violations and the alleged development of technologies, such as brain control weapons, which jeopardize the national security of the United States.

India’s Nifty 50 index lost 1.23% while the S&P Sensex was down 1.24%.

South Korea’s Kospi traded almost flat, up just 0.07% after erasing earlier losses.

In Australia, equities resisted the downtrend, with the benchmark ASX 200 gaining 0.11% to 7,304.

Friday’s session follows overnight declines on Wall Street, where weakness in major tech stocks pushed down major market averages.

Central banks in the spotlight

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Decisions by the Bank of England and the European Central Bank followed earlier in the week, with the U.S. Federal Reserve saying it accelerate the reduction of its monthly bond purchases, after which the central bank plans to start raising interest rates.

The Bank of Japan on Friday canceled emergency pandemic financing, but kept its monetary policy ultra-loose and extended financial assistance to small businesses, Reuters reported.

The BOJ kept its short-term rate target at minus 0.1% and for 10-year bond yields the rate remained around 0%, in line with expectations, the news agency said.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the The dollar index was trading down 0.12% to 95.927 against a basket of its peers.

The Japanese yen strengthened above 114 earlier in the week to 113.57 against the greenback as the Australian dollar changed hands at $ 0.7165, down about 0.25%.

Oil prices fell more than 1% on Friday during trading hours in Asia. US crude futures fell 1.04% to $ 71.63 while the global benchmark Brent fell 0.93% to $ 74.32.

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