Asia stocks mixed in light Christmas trade

Asia stocks mixed in light Christmas trade

Tokyo: Most Asian stock markets were closed on Thursday for Christmas and the remainder were mixed in thin trade, with Tokyo shares creeping up cautiously after a festive rally on Wall Street.

Tokyo closed 0.97% higher, buoyed by shipping and electronics stocks. Of the other Asian markets that were open, Shanghai fell 0.61% and Taiwan slipped 0.22% while Bangkok rose 1.25%.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei index rose 82.40 points to finish at the day’s high of 8,599.50.

Dealers in Tokyo welcomed a Christmas Eve rise on Wall Street on Wednesday, which broke a five-session losing streak despite a new round of grim figures on the US economy.

The Topix index of all the Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section issues gained 9.03 points or 1.09% to 836.02, with turnover of just under one billion shares, the lowest of the year.

Shares in troubled Toyota Motor Corp. rebounded, rising 2.34% to 2,845yen. Nissan Motor Co. gained 2.70% to 304yen.

The commerce department had reported personal income contracted 0.2% in November from the previous month while consumption expenditures shrank 0.6%, in a further sign of a consumer slowdown.

On Wall Street on Wednesday the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 48.99 points (0.58%) to close at 8,468.48 in a shortened Christmas Eve session.

Japan, whose economy has contracted for two straight quarters, was set to release its own set of data on Friday morning, industrial output, unemployment and inflation for November.

But Takero Inaizumi, head of the equities department of Mizuho Investors Securities, said he doubted the market would focus much on the data as the year winds to a close.

“The only thing that would trigger selling at this point is additional earnings forecast cuts from companies that have already lowered their forecasts recently," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

In China, oil refiners fell on concerns over further sliding demand, but retail and home appliance stocks outperformed after Beijing said on Wednesday it would take more steps to stimulate domestic consumption, traders said.

Chinese shares closed down 0.61%. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed down 11.38 points at a 6-week low of 1,852.42 on thin turnover of 42.2 billion yuan (6.2 billion dollars).

China Petroleum Chemical Corp (Sinopec) closed down 1.5% to 7.09. PetroChina, the biggest index component, was down 0.8% at 10.14yuan.

Hong Kong, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Jakarta, Wellington and Mumbai were closed.

Taiwan share prices closed down 0.22%. The weighted index fell 9.64 points to 4,413.45, on turnover of 29.5 billion Taiwan dollars (893 million US).

Thai shares closed 1.25% higher. The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index rose 5.47 points to close at 444.64 points while the bluechip SET-50 index gained 4.11 points to 312.58.