Asian Shares Mixed In Thin Holiday Trading

stockmarkets dec24 24dec18

Asian stocks ended mixed in thin pre-Christmas trading on Monday as investors fretted about the impact of a partial U.S. government shutdown and increasing trade tensions, with White House trade advisor Peter Navarro saying the trade war between the U.S. and China would not come to an end in the near term. The Japanese markets were closed for the Emperor's Birthday holiday.

The U.S. dollar slipped as political uncertainty weighed and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams told CNBC the U.S. central bank is open to reconsidering its views on rate hikes next year.

Oil prices inched higher in Asian trading after oil ministers from OPEC nations said they expect prices will arrest their recent slide and rebalance early next year.

Chinese shares rose after the country's top policymakers signaled more support for the economy next year with tax cuts and other policy measures.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 10.76 points or 0.4 percent to 2,527.01, although Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 102.04 points or 0.4 percent to 25,651.38.

Australian stocks finished modestly higher as markets closed early for the Christmas holidays. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 26.20 points or 0.5 percent to 5,493.80 in thin trading, while the broader All Ordinaries Index rose 26.30 points or 0.5 percent to 5,559.60.

The big four banks ended up between 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent. QBE Insurance advanced 1.4 percent and Insurance Australia climbed 1.2 percent after some insurers flagged the cost of claims from a hailstorm in Sydney.

Myob Group soared 14.6 percent after the accounting software maker recommended a takeover offer from U.S. private equity giant KKR & Co.

Seoul stocks ended lower on worries over political instability in the U.S. amid signs that the partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government, which began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, will last at least a week. The benchmark Kospi slid 6.48 points or 0.3 percent to close at 2,055.01.

New Zealand shares eked out modest gains after ending sharply lower on Friday. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index closed up 28.32 points or 0.3 percent at 8,714.51 after a 1 percent drop on Friday.

U.S. stocks ended sharply lower on Friday to extend recent losses amid fears of a government shutdown and ongoing trade tensions.

On the data front, reports on durable goods orders, third quarter GDP, personal income and spending and consumer sentiment painted a mixed picture of the world's largest economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.8 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 3 percent and the S&P 500 lost 2.1 percent to end at their lowest closing levels in over a year.

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