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Asian Equities Mixed; Powell Says U.S. Fed Not in “Any Hurry” to Change Rates

Investing.com - Asian equities were mixed in morning trade on Monday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank is not in “any hurry” to change interest rates levels again.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component rose 0.3% and 0.7% at 9:55 PM ET (1:55 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.2%.

Chinese retail sales, investment, credit and industrial production data for January and February are all scheduled for release this week.

Sino-U.S. trade developments remained in focus after Yi Gang, People’s Bank of China Governor, said the two sides have reached consensus on many “crucial” issues.

“The two sides discussed issues surrounding the yuan including the need to abide by previous commitments made by Group of 20 nations not to engage in competitive depreciation and to communicate closely on currency issues,” Yi said at a press conference in Beijing on Sunday during the annual National People’s Congress.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded 0.2% higher. The Bank of Japan will meet to decide on its monetary policy later this week but no change in the stimulus package is expected.

Down under, Australia’s ASX fell 0.3%, as oil stocks retreated. Shares of Santos Ltd (AX:STO) was down 2.3%, Oil Search Ltd (AX:OSH) lost 2.4% and Woodside Petroleum Ltd (AX:WPL) also slid about 2%.

On Sunday, Powell told CBS in an interview that the current interest rates are at an “appropriate level.”

"The financial crisis did a great deal of damage to many people's lives. And, of course, not all of them will be made whole," Powell said. But "our system is vastly more resilient and strong than it was before the financial crisis."

His comments came after important data in the U.S. and China came below expectations last week.

The U.S. added just 20,000 jobs in February, compared to an expected gain of 180,000, marking the weakest month of jobs creation since September 2017.

Meanwhile, China’s exports for February tumbled 20.7% year-on-year, much worse than market expectations of a 4.8% drop. It also reversed January gains of 9.1%.

Imports were also down 5.2%, while the market estimated a decline of just 1.4% decline.

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