Asian markets mixed as dealers step back ahead of festive break

AFP – Asian markets were mixed in early trade Monday with activity thinning out as investors wind down for the Christmas break, while confidence remains buoyed by relief at the China-US trade deal.

Global equities are enjoying a flourish at the end of the year, having been on a rollercoaster ride for 12 months owing to the long-running trade row and Brexit.

And observers say that with those two major issues cleared up for now, 2020 could see a healthy run-up in prices, boosted by looser central bank monetary policy as well as signs of improvement in economies around the world.

Wall Street provided yet another record-breaking lead after data confirmed the US economy enjoyed reasonable growth in the third quarter, while other reports showed personal income and consumer confidence improving.

The New York gains lent some support to Asian markets, though they were fluctuating through the morning.

Hong Kong added 0.2 percent and Shanghai rose 0.1 percent while Tokyo went into the break 0.2 percent higher.

Wellington and Taipei were also up but Sydney fell 0.3 percent, Seoul and Manila each shed 0.2 percent and Singapore retreated 0.1 percent.

With very little by way of market-moving events on the horizon, analysts are expecting a quiet week.

“Short of a significant headline bomb… Asia is likely to be in extended lunch mode ahead of the midweek break globally,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Oil prices extended Friday’s losses as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia close in on a deal that will see them restart output in a shared zone along their border.

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Production has been on hold in the region for about four years and the restart could see as much as 500,000 barrels hit the market.

Still, prices are up around a fifth over the year, with support coming from news of the China-US trade deal.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 23,858.86 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 27,934.50

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,006.77

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3009 from $1.3000 at 2140 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.14 pence from 85.20 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1076 from $1.1074

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.42 yen from 109.47 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN seven cents at $66.07 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN five cents at $60.39 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 28,455.09 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,582.48 (close)

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