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Hong Kong lifts some travel bans, China holds on loan rates

hong kong city streetscape and lights at night

The S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.2% lower at 7278.50 on Monday, having dropped from an intraday high of 7350.40 at the early session. The Australian dollar continues to hover around US74c against the US dollar. US equity futures are falling and markets across Asia are mixed.

Bitcoin is US$40,850, Brent crude oil is steady around US$112 a barrel, WTI crude oil is at US$108 a barrel and spot gold continues to trade around US$1926 an ounce.

From the ASX on Monday came news that Hamish Douglass has resigned from Magellan Financial Group’s board after taking medical leave last month. In an ASX statement on Monday, the co-founder of Magellan said his resignation as a director of the global fund manager was “solely due to his medical leave of absence” which started in early February. Magellan shares rose as much as 2% to  $16.07 after the announcement, but closed down by more than 3%.

From a record high of $74.19 in March 2020, Magellan shares fell 82% in 2 years, reaching a low of $13.22 early this month, according to Bloomberg data. Mr Douglass owned 11.97% of Magellan shares as at January 19. Magellan’s Board is continuing its search for an additional independent director.

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Bloomberg is reporting that New Zealand’s Reserve Bank won’t resort to big interest-rate hikes to tame inflation because the risk of a recession has increased, according to Kiwibank. While the RBNZ will raise its benchmark rate six further times this year - taking it to 2.5% - it will stick to 25 basis-point moves, Kiwibank Chief Economist Jarrod Kerr said in a research note. The central bank has already increased the official cash rate to 1% from 0.25% in three steps.

Hong Kong will lift a ban on flights from nine countries including the US deemed at high risk for Covid 19 as of April 1, and cut the time incoming travellers need to spend in hotel quarantine in half provided they test negative, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday. Bloomberg was reporting that most social distancing measures and other curbs will remain in place.

China held its prime loan rates steady, having recently said it would make regulation more transparent and predictable and commit to overseas markets, after some of the greatest stock market volatility in China’s history last week.

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