Most Asia markets fall after Dow plunge; China's keeps benchmark lending rate unchanged

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific fell on Tuesday following an overnight tumble for stocks on Wall Street that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge more than 700 points.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.96% to close at 27,388.16 — the Nikkei is down more than 10% from its February high as of today’s close. Meanwhile, the Topix index fell 0.96% to end the trading day at 1,888.89. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.35% lower at 3,232.70.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed mixed, with the Shanghai composite fractionally lower at 3,536.79 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.123% to 15,011.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell about 0.7%, as of its final hour of trading.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia dropped 0.46% to close at 7,252.20.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.58%.

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On Tuesday, China kept unchanged its benchmark lending rate for corporate and household loans — the one-year Loan Prime Rate (LPR) held steady at 3.85% while the five-year LPR was also left at 4.65%. Majority of traders and analysts in a snap poll expected no change to both the one-year or five-year LPR, according to Reuters.

Markets in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were closed on Tuesday for holidays.

Bitcoin’s price also tumbled amid the market turmoil, falling below $30,000 for the first time in nearly a month. The cryptocurrency’s price was at $29,787.46 as of 3:23 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to Coin Metrics.

Wall Street drop

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 725.81 points to 33,962.04 while the S&P 500 slipped 1.59% to 4,258.49. The Nasdaq Composite fell 1.06% to 14,274.98.

The losses on Wall Street came as concerns grew over the potential impact of a Covid resurgence on the global economic recovery. Several countries in Southeast Asia have been battling a resurgence in infections, and Goldman Sachs recently slashed its 2021 growth forecasts for most of the region.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.007 after a recent bounce from below 92.8.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.66 per dollar, stronger than levels above 110.5 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7321, off levels around $0.738 seen yesterday.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures 1.18% higher at $69.43 per barrel. U.S. crude futures advanced 1.04% to $67.11 per barrel.