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Asia-Pacific stocks mixed; mining stocks lower after commodity prices tumble

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Friday morning trade as investors monitored moves in the commodities space.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.17% while the Topix index slipped 0.56%.

South Korea’s Kospi traded 0.16% higher.

Mainland Chinese stocks slipped, with the Shanghai composite 0.49% lower while the Shenzhen component sat below the flatline. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index traded 0.59% higher.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia advanced 0.34%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded little changed.

Commodities watch

Investors watched for market moves in the commodities sector after a recent tumble in prices.

Shares of major Australian miners were lower: Rio Tinto declined 0.23% and BHP dropped 1.45% while Fortescue Metals Group shed 0.27%.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, adding to losses seen Thursday. International benchmark Brent crude futures slipped 0.9% to $72.42 per barrel. U.S. crude futures declined 0.83% to $70.45 per barrel.

Meanwhile, spot gold rose 0.71% to $1,785.87 per ounce, after seeing sharp declines earlier this week from above $1,840 an ounce.

Bank of Japan holds steady on policy

The Bank of Japan on Friday announced its decision to hold steady on monetary policy as well as an extension of the duration of its pandemic relief program.

“For the time being, the Bank will closely monitor the impact of COVID-19 and will not hesitate to take additional easing measures if necessary, and also it expects short- and long-term policy interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels,” the Japanese central bank said in its monetary policy statement.

Following that announcement, the Japanese yen traded at 110.18 per dollar, stronger than levels above 110.5 against the greenback seen yesterday.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.81 following a recent climb from below 91.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7554 as it struggles to recover after declining from above $0.768 earlier this week.

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