Australia, Japan Lead Asia-Pacific Stocks Higher

Asia-Pacific stock markets were mixed on Monday with Japan and Australia rallying, while mainland Chinese stocks managed to rebound in afternoon trading amid recent concerns over tight liquidity.

The liquidity concerns were triggered last week when the People's Bank of China raised key short-term interest rates, hours after the U.S. Fed's third interest-rate hike this year. The Shanghai Composite eventually closed 0.05% higher on Monday after spending most of the day in negative territory, while the CSI 300, which tracks large cap companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen, closed 0.1% higher. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.74% led by financial stocks - Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (1398.HK) jumped 1.95%, China Construction Bank (939.HK) gained 1.3%, while insurer AIA (1299.HK) advanced around 1.4%. Stock exchange operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (388.HK) was the best performer, jumping 4.15% after its proposal to change eligibility rules for companies wanting to list on the Hong Kong exchange, which would make it easier for new economy companies and biotech companies to IPO in the city. Index-heavyweight Tencent (700.HK) jumped more than 2% after the Chinese social media firm and e-commerce giant (JD) announced they jointly invest a combined $863 million in Chinese discount online retailerVipshop (VIPS).

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rallied 1.6% higher led by insurance and bank stocks ahead of the Bank of Japan policy meeting this Thursday (Dec.21), where it is widely expected short-term and long-term interest rates will remain unchanged this at -0.1% and 0%, respectively. Resona Holdings (8308.JP) gained 3.78%, while insurer Sompo Holdings (8630.JP) jumped 3.86%.

Australia's bellweather S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.7% higher, boosted by banking and mining stocks after the Australian government trimmed its growth forecasts but said improved company profits and continued commodity demand from China would help keep the country on track to return to surplus inside three years. Shares in Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ.AU) jumped 2.13% after a nnouncing an up to AUD1.5 billion buyback. Shares in the other major banks were also up - National Australia Bank (NAB.AU) gained 0.54%, Westpac (WBC.AU) advanced 0.35%, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AU) rose 0.1%. Shares in the big miners advanced with BHP Billiton (BHP.AU) rising 1.95%, while Rio Tinto (RIO.AU) advance 1.22%. Shares in Aconex (ACX.AU) surged 44% in Monday trading after the Australian cloud-based project management company accepted a AUD1.6 billion buyout offer from California-based software giant Oracle (ORCL). Shares in Retail Food Group (RFG.AU) plunged a further 7% to a five-year low amid the ongoing negative media coverage regarding its treatment of franchisees. The operator of Gloria Jean's, Brumby's and Donut King brands once again denied the allegations in a statement to the stock exchange.

Elsewhere, India's stocks swung sharply in early trading on uncertainty over whether or not Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party had won two state elections. As the Wall Street Journal reports a loss for the BJP could risk reining in Mr. Modi's reforms. The Sensex had recently swung back into the green as the result in Modi's favor becomes clearer.

Korea's KOSPI ended flat, while Taiwan's tech-heavy TAIEX closed 0.14% higher.

European markets are higher, with the Euro STOXX 50 up 0.7%, the German DAX 0.8% higher, while the France CAC 40 is up 0.7%.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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