Asian Shares Largely Drop as Investors Eye on China’s Rate Decision, Fed Chairman’s Speech

Asian shares largely dropped on Monday following their best weekly run in five months, as investors awaited China’s rate decision and U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.3%, but is still hovering near 33-year highs.

South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.77%.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong opened 0.48% lower, while the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China traded marginally lower.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia added by 0.31%.

Monday is the Juneteenth holiday in the United States, therefore trading will be off. Even though Wall Street had been performing well for most of the week, Friday saw a decline for all three major indices.

Although the S&P 500 was down 0.37% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.68%, the past week was still their best since March. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.32%, yet it still managed to post gains for the third week running.

After China lowered several of its main lending rates last week, Asian investors will be anticipating China’s loan prime rate decision on Tuesday.

Following last week’s reduction in interest rates for medium-term policy loans, the People’s Bank of China is widely expected to cut the prime interest rate on its benchmark loans.

The Chinese cabinet met last Friday to consider steps to promote economic growth, raising hopes for further stimulus but also creating doubts about whether these measures will be sufficient to rescue the slowing economy.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently on a diplomatic mission in Beijing in order to repair relations between the US and China.

Blinken’s uncommon trip to China will end on Monday, and investors have been watching to see if he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which would be seen as a positive sign in the turbulent ties between the world’s two biggest economies.