Asia Mostly Higher as China Cuts Prime Rate

Mainland Chinese stocks surged by the market close on Thursday, with the country cutting its loan prime rate (LPR) as the country grapples with the economic impact of an ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The Nikkei 225 index climbed 78.45 points, or 0.3%, to 23,479.15.

The Japanese yen traded at 111.73 per U.S. dollar after seeing a sharp weakening yesterday from levels below 110.4.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index dropped 46.65 points, or 0.2%, to 27,609.16.

Australian markets were moderately higher, as an earlier release showed Australia’s unemployment rate rising on a seasonally adjusted basis in January. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January rising to 5.3% from a reading of 5.1% in December.

Following that release, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6642 after seeing an earlier high of $0.6696.

Shares of airline Qantas surged 5.87% after the company announced on Thursday it was adjusting its capacity to Asia until at least late May.

The change comes amid an ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a situation which the airline said is “unfolding and the outlook is uncertain.”

CHINA

The CSI 300 regained 93.35 points, or 2.3%, to 4,144.66.

In a move that was largely in line with expectations, the People’s Bank of China announced a reduction in the lending benchmark rate Thursday. The one-year LPR was reduced by 10 basis points, while the five-year LPR saw a five-basis-point deduction. The announcement came days after the PBoC reduced the rate for medium-term loans.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex dipped 33.75 points, or 0.3%, to 11,725.09

In Korea, the Kospi index settled 14.84 points, or 0.7%, to 2,195.50

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index removed 15.03 points, or 0.5%, to 3,198.68

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 hiked 83.83 points, or 0.7%, to 12,064.86

In Australia, the ASX 200 gained 17.93 points, or 0.3%, to 7,162.49