Chinese stocks slip on lingering trade tensions; RBA cuts interest rates

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Chinese stocks declined on Tuesday, while other major Asian markets were largely unchanged amid ongoing global trade tensions.

The Shanghai composite declined 0.96% to finish its trading day at 2,862.28 and the Shenzhen component closed 1.23% lower at 8,748.27. The Shenzhen composite also fell 1.434% to close at 1,494.15.

Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index shed 0.7%, as of its final hour of trading. Shares of Chinese tech giant Tencent fell 1.92%.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed just below the flatline at 20,408.54, with shares of index heavyweight Softbank Group dropping 3.27%. The Topix index also finished its trading day largely unchanged at 1,499.09.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed marginally lower at 2,066.97.

RBA slashes interest rates

Over in Australia, the ASX 200 rose 0.19% to close at 6,322.40 after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced that it was cutting its cash rate by 25 basis points to 1.25% on Tuesday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6986 after touching an earlier low of $0.6958.

“Today’s decision to lower the cash rate will help make further inroads into the spare capacity in the economy,” RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in a statement.

Analysts that spoke to CNBC generally agreed that more rate hikes were on the horizon.

“We think we’ll see three more … we’re looking for the cash rate to fall to 0.5% by the middle of next year, i think the next move will come fairly quickly, probably in July or if not in August, then the reserve bank will sit back and see,” Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors, told CNBC’s “Capital Connection.”

“I think ultimately the Reserve will have to do more than a couple of rate cuts to get unemployment going back down again, to get wages growth up and to get inflation moving towards their target,” he added.

“We wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see more rate cuts,” said Kristian Kolding, partner of the macroeconomic policy and forecasting team at Deloitte Access Economics, who said one more rate cut is likely. “However, the economy is, the way we see it is not as bad as some people think and as some people say. So, one rate cut now was expected, another one I’d say likely, but we wouldn’t be factoring (in) three rate cuts at this point in time.”

Meanwhile, Federal Open Market Committee voting member James Bullard said Monday that an interest rate cut ” may be warranted soon ” due to the potential impact of global trade tensions as well as weak U.S. inflation on economic growth.

“The market has become even more aggressive in factoring in Fed easing over the past week,” strategists at Singapore’s DBS Bank wrote in a morning note. They added that four cuts are now factored in, by end 2020, as compared to three a week ago.

Investors continue to watch for developments on U.S.-China trade, with tensions having risen since the two economic powerhouses engaged in a tariff escalation on each other’s goods in May.

“There won’t be a deal and they’ll go away and then eventually the U.S. will follow through … on the tariffs, on the remaining parts of imports from China,” Rob Subbaraman, head of global macro research at Nomura, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.

“On the U.S. side, opening up the front of going after China’s technology companies has very strong support from Congress. And on the China side, I think in the past week, we’ve seen … a real step up in rhetoric and retaliation and I think there is a groundswell of kind of nationalism building on the China side,” he said.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.055 after sliding from levels above 97.6 yesterday. The Japanese yen traded at 107.87 against the dollar after touching levels around 109.9 last week.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract slipping 0.42% to $61.02 per barrel and U.S. crude futures declining 0.34% to $53.07 per barrel.

– CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.