Asian shares mixed on Monday ahead of US Fed meeting

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Shares in Asia were mixed on Monday ahead of an unscheduled US Federal Reserve meeting later on Monday.

The board of governors meeting was called to review the advance and discount interest rates charged to commercial banks, among others.

There has been much speculation around whether or not the Fed will raise its benchmark interest rate in December.

The benchmark is a separate target for the rate at which big banks lend reserves to each other overnight.

Analysts said a move on the advance and discount rate later on Monday could be indicative of a benchmark interest rate rise by the end of the year.

More rules for China

China's mainland stock exchanges - the Shanghai and Shenzhen indexes - said last week that new rules would come into effect on Monday aimed at limiting leveraged bets on the market and reducing speculative behaviour by investors.

The intention is to reduce the amount that investors can borrow against their existing holdings - a step that analysts said was responsible and would help avoid market bubbles.

Reaction to the new rules was subdued, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite index ending down 0.5% at 3,610.31.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.4% to 22,665.90, with shares of Chinese brokerage Guotai Junan International diving 12.3% after it said it had been unable to contact its chief executive since 18 November.

The Hong Kong unit is a subsidiary of Guotai Junan Securities. The parent's firm initial public offering in Shanghai in June was the largest in China since 2010.

Elsewhere, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.39% at 5,276.40.

Evan Lucas of IG Markets explained why the Sydney market was the best-performing developed market globally last week.

"This is likely to be down to two factors: volatility collapsing on central bank expectations and the fact that yield in Australian or even US dollars is the highest in the Asian world," he said.

However, Mr Lucas said that mining shares in Australia - especially BHP Billiton - could be hit this week after iron ore fell to $44.91 a tonne on Friday - the second-lowest of the year. Iron ore is Australia's biggest commodity export.

BHP's Sydney-listed shares closed down 2.1%, while mining giant Rio Tinto's shares finished the trading day down 1%.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index closed up 0.7% at 2,003.7.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei index was closed on Monday for a public holiday.

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