(RTTNews) - Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday as EU leaders remained at odds over how to carve up a 750 billion-euro (US$857 billion) stimulus package designed to help haul Europe out of its deepest recession since World War Two. Uncertainty over U.S. stimulus and weak Japanese exports data also kept underlying sentiment cautious.
Chinese shares rallied as the country's central bank left its key interest rates unchanged for the third consecutive month amid signs of economic recovery. The one-year loan prime rate was retained at 3.85 percent and the five-year loan prime rate was maintained at 4.65 percent.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index climbed 100.02 points, or 3.11 percent, to 3,314.15, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended down 31.18 points, or 0.12 percent, at 25,057.99.
Japanese shares ended on a flat note after data showed the country's exports fell more than expected in June. The Nikkei average fluctuated before ending marginally higher at 22,717.48. The broader Topix index inched up 0.20 percent to 1,577.03.
Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 268.824 billion yen in June - missing expectations for a shortfall of 35.8 billion yen following the 833.4 billion yen deficit in May.
Exports were down 26.2 percent year-on-year - shy of forecasts for a decline of 24.9 percent following the 28.3 percent drop in the previous month .Imports fell an annual 14.4 percent versus expectations for a fall of 16.8 percent after sinking 26.2 percent a month earlier.
Separately, the minutes from the Bank of Japan's June rate review showed that policymakers debated the risk of return to deflation at the meeting.
Heavyweight SoftBank Group lost 2.2 percent and Fast Retailing gave up 1.6 percent. Exporters ended mixed despite a weaker yen. Canon rose 0.8 percent and Sony advanced 1.7 percent, while Nissan Motor tumbled 3 percent.
Australian markets fell as Victoria recorded another 275 new virus cases and authorities warned it could take weeks to slow the outbreak to levels seen as recently in June.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped 32 points, or 0.53 percent, to 6,001.60, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 32.60 points, or 0.53 percent, at 6,112.30.
The big four banks fell between 0.8 percent and 1.6 percent ahead of the mini budget later this week, while energy companies such as Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search, Origin Energy, Beach Energy and Santos lost 2-4 percent.
Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto advanced 1.2 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. Diversified miner South32 declined 2.3 percent after flagging impairments. Gold miners posted broad-based gains, with Resolute Mining surging as much as 4.8 percent.
Seoul stocks finished slightly lower after rising sharply last week on hopes for stimulus measures in major economies. The benchmark Kospi edged down 2.99 points, or 0.14 percent, to close at 2,198.20. Automakers bucked the weak trend, with both Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors rising over 3 percent.
New Zealand shares gave up early gains to end modestly lower. The benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 30.89 points, or 0.27 percent, to 11,553.16.
The services sector in New Zealand swung back into expansion territory in June, the latest survey from BusinessNZ revealed today with a Performance of Services Index score of 54.1, up sharply from the upwardly revised 37.5 in May (originally 37.2). This was the first time the sector exhibited expansion since February.
U.S. stocks ended Friday's session on a mixed note as Netflix forecast slower-than-expected subscriber growth and data showed U.S. consumer sentiment turned decidedly more pessimistic in July.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index and the S&P 500 rose around 0.3 percent as traders weighed the prospect of more fiscal stimulus against the troubling headlines on the coronavirus front.
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