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Asian equities soften as activity winds down

Friday 02:50 GMT


Asian markets not already shut for the holidays went into retreat, following a negative lead from Wall Street as investors took a breather ahead of the Christmas break.

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Most major global stock markets were on track to finish December in the black, continuing the rally set off by Donald Trump’s presidential election victory in early November.

In Asia, Japanese equities have been buoyed as weaker yen given exporters a boost, while the Bank of Japan this week gave a relatively optimistic assessment of the domestic economy as it kept monetary policy on hold.

Hong Kong and China, though, have performed poorly, with benchmarks in the territory and on the mainland weaker for the month to date.

Most global bourses look set to finish a turbulent year with gains. However, Japan’s benchmark Topix has yet to break into positive territory for 2016, and Hong Kong and Chinese stocks are also negative so far this year.


Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.3 per cent in a shortened trading day, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.6 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite and the technology-focused Shenzhen Composite were each 0.6 per cent lower.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 closed 0.2 per cent lower, while the Dow Jones retreated further from its attempt to breach the 20,000 point milestone, finishing 0.1 per cent weaker.


Currency markets were subdued. The US dollar index was flat at 103.05 in Asia trading. The Japanese yen was 0.1 per cent firmer at ¥‎117.48 per dollar and eyeing its first three-day winning streak since early November before the US election.

So far this month, the Indonesian rupiah and the Indian rupee are the only Asian currencies to have gained against the US dollar. The South Korean won and Japanese yen are worst off, both down by more than 2.5 per cent


Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, dropped 0.5 per cent to $54.75 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate was down 0.6 per cent at $52.64.

Gold was a quarter of 1 per cent higher at $1,131.11 an ounce.

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