Asia Mixed on Australia Rate Hike

Shares in Asia-Pacific struggled for direction in Tuesday trade as the Reserve Bank of Australia announced a larger-than-expected interest rate decision.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 28.06 points, or 0.1%, to 27,943.95.

The Japanese yen traded at 132.60 per U.S. dollar, still weaker than levels below 128 seen against the greenback last week.

The Japanese currency has struggled against the greenback for weeks as the Bank of Japan continues to adopt an ultra-easy monetary policy stance, a stark contrast to global peers such as the U.S. and UK where interest rates are rising as central banks seek to fight inflation.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gave up some of Monday’s gains, docking 122.23 points, or 0.6%, to 21,531,67.

The Reserve Bank of Australia unexpectedly announced a 50-basis-point increase in the cash rate to 0.85%. Analysts had been expecting a rate hike of 25 basis points or 40 basis points, according to Reuters.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia shed 2.6%, Westpac slipped 2.1% and National Australia Bank slid 3.3% while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group shed 1.5%.

The Australian dollar momentarily jumped as high as $0.7245 but later retreated from those levels, last trading at $0.7198.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 added 13.05 points or 0.3%, to 4,179.13.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index inched ahead 4.91 points, or 0.2%, to 3,231.54.

In Taiwan, the Taiex index doffed 93.08 points, or 0.6%, to 16,512.88.

Markets in Korea returned to trading with a loss of 44.31 points, or 1.7%, 2,626.34.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 lost 151.64 points after a long weekend, or 1.3%, to 11,265.70

In Australia, the ASX 200 jettisoned 110.53 points, or 1.5%, to 7,095.74.