Russian-Ukrainian crisis, China benchmark lending rate

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SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday as investors continued to monitor the situation around Ukraine. Meanwhile, China left a benchmark lending rate unchanged.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan momentarily fell 2% in morning trade before retracing some of those losses, eventually ending the trading day down 0.78% at 26,910.87 while the Topix index lost 0.71% to 1,910.68. The South Korean Kospi closed slightly lower at 2,743.80.

Mainland China stocks closed little changed, with the Shanghai composite broadly flat at 3,490.61 while the Shenzhen component edged higher at 13,471.16. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell around 0.8% in the last hour of trading.

China held steady on a benchmark lending rate on Monday, with the one-year loan prime rate (LPR) unchanged at 3.7%. That matched forecasts from 24 financial institutions in a Reuters snapshot poll.

The five-year LPR also remained unchanged at 4.6%.

Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.16% higher at 7,233.60. The Straits Times index in Singapore also rose 0.17%, as of 3:15 p.m. local time.

MSCI’s broadest Asia Pacific ex-Japan equity index fell 0.3%.

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Investor sentiment in the region may have improved after US President Joe Biden agreed “in principle” to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Moscow did not invade Ukraine.

Concerns over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine kept investors on edge, with Biden saying on Friday that the United States believes Putin has decided to carry out an attack on Ukraine “in the coming days.”

Markets in the United States are closed on Mondays for a public holiday.

Currencies and oil

the The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.788 after hitting a previous high of 96.151.

The Japanese yen was trading at 114.99 to the dollar after strengthening to around 114.8 against the greenback late last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7217, down from an earlier low of $0.7159.

Oil prices struggled to find their bearings in the afternoon trading hours in Asia, with international benchmark Brent futures falling 0.17% to $93.38 a barrel. U.S. crude futures were flat at $91.07 a barrel.

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