Asian stocks mixed in quiet trade, Japan buoyed by lower yen

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Asian markets were mixed Thursday in quiet trade amid the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., with Japan’s bourse buoyed by a lower yen.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei rose 1 per cent to 18,338.35 while Shanghai Composite Index was up 3,248.11. Seoul’s fell 0.5 per cent to 1,977.64 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 eased 0.1 per cent to 5,480.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.4 per cent to 22,578.18. Benchmarks in New Zealand rose but Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia retreated.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes again set records Wednesday in pre-holiday trading. Machinery and equipment makers climbed but technology companies fell. The Dow rose 0.3 per cent to 19,083.18 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 0.1 per cent to 2,204.72. The Nasdaq composite shed 0.1 per cent to 5,380.68. U.S. markets will be closed Thursday and will close early on Friday.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Volumes have been poor through U.S. equity markets and that’s hardly a surprise given the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday but the juggernaut that is the bull market continues, albeit slowly,” Chris Weston of IG said in a report. He said the Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks, where the real momentum is, gained for the 14th day in a row. Weston said the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to go ahead with an interest rate hike in December, especially after the release of a slew of strong economic data.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 112.83 yen from Wednesday’s 112.60 yen while the euro eased further to $1.0530 from $1.0549.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 5 cents to $48.01 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slipped 7 cents on Wednesday to close at $47.96. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was flat at $48.95 in London. The contract lost 17 cents in the previous session.