Tokyo: Most Asian stocks were slightly higher Thursday as fewer investors participated in the market ahead of the New Year holiday, while Japan’s Nikkei index ended lower on the last trading day of the year due to a firming yen.
The Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average fell 128.73 points, or 1.2%, to finish at 10,215.81. Investors sold export-linked stocks as the yen gained ground against the dollar.
A strong yen hurts Japanese exporters as it cuts the value of their repatriated profits and makes their products less competitive abroad.
Shares in Toyota Motor Corp. fell 0.9% to 3,220 yen. Honda Motor Co. lost 1.2% to 3,215 yen. Sony Corp. was down 1.4% at 2,914 yen on Thursday.
The Japanese stock market will be closed in the afternoon session Thursday. It will resume trading on 4 January.
Over the year, the Nikkei index declined 3.1%.
Apart from the Nikkei, China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.3% to 2,744.52.
Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi edged up just 0.41 points to 2,043.90. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.5% to 23,072.43. Shares in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan were all higher.
In New York Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial average added 9.84 points, or 0.1%, to 11,585.38. The S&P 500 rose 1.27, or 0.1%, to 1,259.78. The technology-focused Nasdaq gained 4.05, or nearly 0.2%, to 2,666.93.
Across Asia, investors stayed on the sidelines in light trading ahead of the New Year holiday and also in the absence of fresh market leads.
In currencies, the dollar fell to 81.34 yen in Tokyo Thursday from 81.63 yen in New York late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.3248 from $1.3221.
Benchmark crude for February delivery edged up six cents to $91.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.