Asian shares mixed with most markets closed for holiday

AP – Stocks rose in China and were little changed in Japan yesterday with most world markets closed for the holidays.

The mixed session followed an advance during Wall Street’s shortened holiday trading as investors began the holiday weekend seemingly untroubled over United States (US) President Donald Trump’s threat not to sign a major economic stimulus package approved by Congress this week.

The economic package remained in limbo after Republican lawmakers rejected Trump’s demand that the end-of-year spending bill give most Americans USD2,000 COVID relief cheque — far more than the USD600 members of his own party had agreed to.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell less than 0.1 per cent to 26,656.61 after the government reported that retail sales fell two per cent from a year earlier in November, while consumer prices dropped the most they have in a decade.

The Shanghai Composite index surged one per cent to 3,396.56. Shares also rose in Thailand.

Pedestrians walk pass the New York Stock Exchange in New York. PHOTO: AP

The dollar weakened to JPY103.54 Japanese from JPY103.65 late Thursday. The euro rose to USD1.2196 from USD1.2186.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 index gained 0.4 per cent to 3703.06 but ended the week down 0.2 per cent. Relatively safe investments like utilities and real estate were among the biggest gainers, while energy stocks fell.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 per cent to 30,199.87 and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.3 per cent, to 12,804.73.

Investors remain focussed on Washington, where Democrats in Congress are expected to try to amend the USD900 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill that President Trump has threatened to veto.

Democrats support higher payments for individuals, but that is unlikely to win support in the Republican- held Senate. The hope has been that Trump will back away from his veto threat and the stimulus package might tide the economy over until widespread vaccinations can help the world begin to return to normal.

Meanwhile the US economy has continued to deteriorate under widespread coronavirus outbreaks, infections and hospitalisations.