Asia-Pacific stocks lower; China’s benchmark lending rate release ahead

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific traded lower Monday morning, with investors looking ahead to the release of China’s benchmark lending rate.In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.49% while the Topix index shed 0.42%. South Korea’s Kospi was 0.63% lower.Shares in Australia declined, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4%.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.22% lower.China is set to announce its latest loan prime rates (LPR) at around 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN. Analysts and traders in a recent Reuters poll expect no change to either the one-year or the five-year LPR.Meanwhile, the coronavirus situation in parts of North Asia such as Japan and South Korea remains severe and could weigh on investor sentiment.New coronavirus cases in South Korea hit a fresh record high on Sunday, according to local news agency Yonhap. Over in Japan, the country’s capital Tokyo saw its monthly tally of new coronavirus cases topping 10,000 for the first time on Sunday, according to Kyodo News.CurrenciesThe U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.28 — off a recent slump below the 90 level.The Japanese yen traded at 103.40 per dollar following levels below 103.2 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7586, having risen from levels below $0.752 last week.Here’s a look at what’s on tap:China: Loan prime rates at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN— CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.

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