/Australia stocks little changed; many Asia-Pacific markets set for early close – CNBC

Australia stocks little changed; many Asia-Pacific markets set for early close – CNBC

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Thursday trade, as multiple markets in the region are set to close early for New Year’s Eve.

Mainland Chinese stocks jumped in morning trade: the Shanghai composite rose 1.19% while the Shenzhen component gained 1.417%. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong advanced 0.41%.

China on Thursday said its factory activity expanded in December. The country’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December came in at 51.9, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

That was a slight decline compared to November’s reading of 52.1. Still, the December figure was above the 50-level that separates expansion from contraction.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.64%. Singapore’s Straits Times index also dipped 0.4%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.27% higher.

Markets in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong are set to close earlier than usual on Thursday due to New Year’s Eve.

Markets in Japan and South Korea are closed on Thursday for a holiday.

On the coronavirus front, the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca received authorization on Wednesday for emergency use in the U.K. Still, the U.K. government outlined plans on Wednesday to impose stricter coronavirus restrictions on millions of people across England as a new strain of the virus spreads across the country.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 73.89 points to close at 30,409.56. The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to end its trading day at 3,732.04 while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.2% to close at 12,870. Wednesday’s moves marked the fourth positive session in five for both the Dow and S&P 500.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 89.527 after a recent slip from levels above 90.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.08 per dollar, having strengthened from levels above 103.8 against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7707 following a rise from levels below $0.76 seen earlier in the trading week.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.25% to $51.50 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.23% to $48.29 per barrel.

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