Asian stocks mixed after China’s rate hike
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Asian stocks mixed after China’s rate hike

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed in early trading Monday after China’s central bank raised interest rates over the weekend in a bid to rein in soaring inflation.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average rose 57.89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 10,337.08. Markets in Malaysia and Singapore were marginally higher, but South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.1 percent at 2,026.28.

Stock markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong were closed Monday for the Christmas holiday.

China-Markets

An investor looks at the stock price monitor at a private securities company Monday, Dec. 13, 2010 in Shanghai, China. Pic: AP.

In thin Asian trading, investors reacted coolly to China’s rate hike Saturday, which will lift the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to 5.81 percent. The Chinese central bank said the one-year deposit rate will also climb by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent.

It was China’s second rate hike in just over two months as Beijing battles to tame rising inflation, which could threaten political stability. Inflation is an especially sensitive issue in China, where poor families spend up to half their incomes on food.

China’s inflation jumped to 5.1 percent in November — a 28-month high — despite a crackdown on speculation and repeated moves to curb a flood of money circulating in the economy from massive stimulus spending and bank lending.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 82.92 yen in Tokyo on Monday from 82.89 yen in New York late Friday. The euro stood at $1.3108 from $1.3113.

The U.S. stock markets were closed Friday for Christmas.