Asia Mixed as RBA Stands Pat

Australian shares slipped fractionally on Tuesday as the Reserve Bank of Australia left its cash rate unchanged at a record low level.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index inched up 4.97 points to close at 20,625.16

The Japanese yen traded at 106.07 against the U.S. dollar following levels above 106.3 seen in the previous session.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index lost 98.7 points, or 0.4%, to 25,527.85.

Media reports Monday said the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would "quit" if she "had a choice." She also said there may be "very limited" room for her to resolve the current crisis in Hong Kong, which has seen weeks of unrest.

Australian markets moved downward, with the heavily-weighted financial sub-index down by 0.1%.

In a widely expected move, the Australian central bank kept its cash rate at 1%. "It is reasonable to expect that an extended period of low interest rates will be required in Australia to make progress in reducing unemployment and achieve more assured progress towards the inflation target," Governor Philip Lowe said in a statement. The RBA previously cut interest rates in June and July.

Australian July retail sales fell in July, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed. That’s despite stimulus measures such as income tax cuts and interest rate cuts. Retail sales for July declined 0.1% on a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis — lower than expectations of a 0.2% increase.

The Australian dollar last changed hands at $0.6718 after touching an earlier low of $0.6686.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 gained 5.29 points, or 0.1%, to 3,853.61

Developments on the U.S.-China trade front continued to be watched by investors, following the recent implementation of more tariffs from both Washington and Beijing on each other’s goods over the weekend.

The U.S. began imposing 15% tariffs on a variety of Chinese goods on Sunday, including footwear, clothes and other consumer goods.

For its part, China is moving slowly in the implementation of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, and the majority of duties are set to take effect Dec. 15. On Sunday, the Chinese government pushed ahead with increased duties of between 5% and 10% on a variety of major American goods exported to China, including soybeans and crude oil.

In other markets

Markets in Taiwan were closed for a public holiday.

In Korea, the Kospi index subtracted 3.5 points, or 0.2%, to 1,965.69

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index picked up 6.29 points, or 0.2%, to 3,089.25

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 leaped 153.92 points, or 1.4%, to 10,953.91

In Australia, the ASX 200 slid 4.92 points, or 0.1%, to 6,533.79