© Reuters.

Investing.com Equity markets continued to rise rose Monday morning in Asia, starting a short New Year’s Day week strong after finishing the shortened Christmas week at multi-month highs.

On Friday, Hong Kong’s closed at its highest levels in five months while U.S. markets hit record highs.

Monday morning, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.70% by 10:46 PM ET (03:47GMT).

Mainland China markets were also trading higher. China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.94%, theShenzhen Componentwas up 0.86%.

In a push for growth and in the midst of the trade war between the U.S. and China, for which the signing of a phase one deal is expected in early January, China’s central bank announced during the weekend its loan prime rate (LPR) will become a new benchmark for current floating-rate loans.

The purpose of the step is to make interest rates more market-driven and help lower financing costs,” Wen Bin, an economist at Minsheng Bank in Beijing told Reuters.

According to the People´s Bank of China, starting January 1 it will be prohibited for new floating-rate loan contracts to base their lending rates on the current benchmark, which has been unchanged since the third quarter of 2015 at 4.35% The LPR for one-year loans stands at 4.15%.

In Japan, the traded 0.61% lower after losing ground last Friday due to a number of stocks that traded without the value of the next dividend payment (ex-dividend).

Down under, Australia’s slipped 0.55% during its last full day of trading in 2019, with markets there closing early on Tuesday for New Year´s Eve.

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