Asia shares mostly higher in New Year Eve trading

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — Shares were mixed Tuesday in Asia, as early gains succumbed to selling pressure hours ahead of the year's final trading session.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.3 percent to close at 23,306.39 in a half-day session, buoyed by gains in mainland China-based banks and energy companies. Shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen also rebounded from early losses.

Elsewhere in Asia, share prices rose in Malaysia and Singapore but fell in Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Markets were closed in Japan and other Asian markets for the New Year holiday.

The Tokyo benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.7 percent Monday to end 2013 at its highest level in more than six years, having gained 56.7 percent in 2013 — the biggest annual gain in 41 years.

But other major markets were more cautious. Germany's DAX drifted 0.4 percent lower on its last trading day, to 9,552.16, leaving it shy of its record high hit last week.

The French and British markets, which will trade for a half day on Tuesday, also closed slightly lower, with the CAC-40 down 0.1 percent at 4,275.71, and the FTSE 100 down 0.3 percent at 6,731.27.

In the U.S., the Dow was flat at 16,483.88, while the S&P 500 was down 0.1 percent at 1,840.22.

This was a banner year for many markets, with the DAX up 25.5 percent, the CAC index up 17.4 percent and the FTSE 100 gaining 14 percent. But none matched the Nikkei, which soared on renewed confidence in the economy.

But Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, burdened by rising concern over slowing growth in mainland China, gained just 2.8 percent this year, while the Shanghai Composite Index has fallen 7 percent.

In foreign exchange markets, the dollar was virtually unchanged at 104.93 Japanese yen, while the euro slipped 0.07 percent to $1.379.

The price of crude oil dipped back below $100, with the benchmark U.S. contract for February delivery unchanged at $99.29 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Carlo Piovano in London contributed to this report.