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South Korea rate decision, oil and currencies

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SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific stocks were mixed in early trade on Thursday, as U.S. markets again surged to record highs. Meanwhile, South Korea’s central bank hiked interest rates.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.36%, while the Topix edged up 0.14%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.31%.

South Korea’s central bank raised interest rates, a decision expected by analysts. That made it the first developed economy to do so in the pandemic era.

The Bank of Korea raised its rate by 25 basis points to 0.75%.

“The virus situation in Korea has deteriorated since the central bank’s July meeting, when it gave strong signals that tightening was imminent,” Capital Economics wrote in a note before the announcement.

“However, the economy has become increasingly resilient to outbreaks, as businesses have learned to live with the virus,” it said, adding that surging household debt and rising home prices are adding to financial stability issues.

South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.13% after the rate announcement.

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U.S. stocks climbed again overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 39.24 points, or 0.1%, to 35,405.50. The S&P 500 added 0.2% to a new closing high of 4,496.19. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.1% to 15,041.86, also a new closing high.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, dropped to 92.819, off levels above 93 earlier this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.01, weakening from the 109 level in recent days. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7277, a touch stronger than levels above $0.725 earlier this week.

Oil prices fell in the morning of Asia hours. International benchmark Brent crude futures declined 0.58% to $71.83 per barrel. U.S. crude futures 0.69% to $67.89.

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