Asian markets mixed in light holiday trade

Asian stocks markets were narrowly mixed in dwindling holiday trade Tuesday after Wall Street posted muted gains. The dollar was moderately higher against the euro and yen. Australian shares led the region, its resource-heavy market powered by stronger prices for oil, gold and other commodities in recent days.

Trade was sluggish and thin across much of the region with many investors out for the holidays and unwilling to place bets toward the end of a year marked by tremendous gains in stocks around the world.

The markets seemed to find little inspiration in figures showing holiday sales in the U.S., crucial for Asia's big export companies, ticked up slightly from last year. The news helped push Wall Street stocks to their sixth straight gain.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 stock average rose 6.97 points, or 0.1 percent, to 10,641.20. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 12.99 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,467.23.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in this September 16, 2009 file photo.

South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.3 percent to 1,663.47 and China's Shanghai index lost 0.3 percent to 3,177.82.

Elsewhere, Australia's key index rose 1.1 percent to 4,845.1. India's Sensex gained 0.2 percent and Singapore's market added 0.2 percent.

Monday in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 26.98, or 0.3 percent, to 10,547.08, its highest close since Oct. 1, 2008. The Dow transportation average fell 24.37, or 0.6 percent, to 4,163.49.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.3, or 0.1 percent, to 1,127.78, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 5.39, or 0.2 percent, to 2,291.08.

Oil prices hung below $79 a barrel in Asia, with benchmark crude for February delivery down 11 cents to $78.66. The contract settled up 72 cents at $78.77 on Monday after surging above $79 as an extended cold snap in the U.S. triggered an end-of-year rally in energy futures.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 91.69 yen from 91.62 yen. The euro was lower at $1.4373 from $1.4376.

source AFP

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