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Hong Kong jumps more than 2% as Asia Pacific stocks mostly rise; Australia keeps policy steady

Stocks in Asia Pacific mostly rose on Tuesday as the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) kept its policy settings unchanged.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong led gains among the region’s major markets, surging 2.25%, as of its final hour of trading.

Japanese stocks, which led gains among the region’s major markets on Monday, continued to see robust gains on Tuesday. The Nikkei 225 gained 1.7% to close at 22,573.66 while the Topix index advanced 2.14% to end its trading day at 1,555.26.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia surged 1.88% to close at 6,037.60. Australia’s retail sales data for June rose 2.7% month-on-month on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data released Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That was higher than expectations of a 2.4% increase in a Reuters poll.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.29% to close at 2,279.97.

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed on the day, with Shanghai composite gaining 0.11% to about 3,371.69 while the Shenzhen component dipped 0.745% to around 13,860.46.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 1.54%.

The Australian central bank on Tuesday announced its decision to maintain the current policy settings. That came as social distancing measures have been ramped up in the Australian state of Victoria to contain the coronavirus.

RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in a media release announcing the monetary policy decision that the recovery in the Australian economy is “likely to be both uneven and bumpy,” acknowledging that the coronavirus outbreak in Victoria is having a “major effect” on the state’s economy.

Meanwhile, lawmakers stateside remained at an impasse regarding the next coronavirus stimulus package, with the main sticking point continuing to be the federal boost to unemployment assistance.

“”What’s really important … for the Asian economies is Chinese growth and U.S. growth and digging into that a bit deeper, what’s really critical is … consumer-led growth … in both of those markets,” Isaac Poole, chief investment officer at Oreana Financial Services, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Tuesday.

“That is why the unemployment benefits story … in the U.S. is so critical,” Poole said. “Without it, we’re going to see consumer spending fall off a cliff. That’s going to really dial back the engine of global growth in this recovery.”

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.394 after an earlier high of 93.609.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.92 per dollar after weakening from levels around 105.6 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.714 after falling below $0.71 yesterday.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down around 0.3% to $44.02 per barrel. The U.S. crude futures also dipped 0.27% to $40.90 per barrel.

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