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Asian shares mostly slip after US markets close for national holiday

TOKYO (AP) – Asian shares mostly declined on Tuesday as some investors took a wait-and-see attitude after US markets were closed for a national holiday.

Some investors were also disappointed after a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Secretary of State Antony Blinken yielded no signs of progress from either side on various issues of contention.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down less than 0.1 per cent in afternoon trading to 33,388.91. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9 per cent to 7,357.80. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.2 per cent to 2,603.27. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 1.8 per cent to 19,550.76, while the Shanghai Composite edged down 0.5 per cent to 3,240.87.

The Chinese government said the meeting between Xi and the top US diplomat produced “candid and in-depth” talks. Bilateral relations are at their lowest point in decades. Both sides indicated a willingness to cooperate.

“There is no doubt China and the USA need each other, and their relationship to be back on a more secure footing for mutually beneficial commercial reasons, as well as reducing the risk of actual conflict,” Clifford Bennett, chief economist at ACY Securities said in a commentary.

A currency trader walks by the screens at a foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea on June 20. PHOTO: AP

The Chinese economy is recovering at a slower pace than expected from the disruptions caused by efforts to vanquish COVID-19, leading the central bank to cut its benchmark one-year loan prime rate on Tuesday by a tenth of a percentage point to 3.55 per cent.

The five-year rate was lowered to 4.2 per cent in a move to help ease credit and encourage spending and investment to boost economic activity.

“Recent easing moves suggest that reopening efforts are losing their shine, setting the groundwork for more policy intervention to follow in the months ahead,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a commentary.
US markets were closed for the Juneteenth national holiday. Markets are also watching the direction of interest rate hikes.

Last week, the Federal Reserve held its benchmark lending rate steady, the first time in 10 straight monthly meetings it hasn’t announced an increase. The Fed warned it could raise rates as often as two more times this year.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude lost USD1.02 to USD70.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, declined 26 cents to USD75.83 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar edged up to 142.07 Japanese yen from 141.91 yen. The euro cost USD1.0931, up from USD1.0921.

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