Asia markets trade lower following fresh record highs in the US

Asia markets trade lower following fresh record highs in the US

Asia Pacific stocks mostly traded lower on Monday — the last full trading day of the year in several major markets in the region.

Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.32% in early trade, while Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 fell 0.76%.

South Korea’s Kospi bucked the trend, rising 0.15%.

Overall, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.12%.

In Hong Kong, trade data for November is set to be released on Monday as protests continue to take a toll on its economy.

China’s central bank over the weekend said that it will use the loan prime rate as a new benchmark for pricing current floating-rate loans, which analysts say could lower borrowing costs and boost growth, according to a Reuters report.

Monday’s session in Asia follows fresh record highs in U.S. stocks last week amid year-end optimism in markets.

Markets in Japan and South Korea will be closed tomorrow, on New Year’s Eve. Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore will close early by around mid-day.

Oil prices were little changed during the morning of Asia hours, after the U.S. military carried out “precision defense strikes” in Iraq and Syria against a militia group following a string of attacks on Iraqi bases that host American service members. The Pentagon said in a statement that three locations in Iraq and two in Syria were targeted by U.S. forces.

International benchmark Brent crude edged up to trade at $68.20 per barrel, while U.S. crude traded flat at about $61.69 per barrel.

In currencies, the U.S. dollar traded near flat against a basket of its peers. The dollar index was around 96.950.

The Japanese yen changed little against the greenback, trading at 109.38. The Australian dollar fetched $0.6988, strengthening from an earlier low of 0.6965.

Here’s the economic calendar for Monday (all times in HK/SIN):

  • 4:30 p.m.: Hong Kong’s exports and imports data

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