Asian stocks see mixed holiday trading as 2023 closes

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mixed on Friday, the last trading day of the year, with some regional markets posting solid gains in 2023 while others declined.

US futures and oil prices remained high.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 0.2% to 33,464.17. It rose 27% in 2023, its best year in a decade as the Japanese central bank moves to end its long-standing ultra-loose monetary policy.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 0.2% at 16,966.77, while the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.6% at 2,971.35. The Shanghai index has fallen about 4% this year and the Hang Seng is down about 15%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3% to 7,590.80, having risen about 6% this year.

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India's Sensex slipped 0.2% to 72,279.18. It has gained more than 18% this year, hitting new highs as retail investors bought heavily on expectations that the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates next year, helping bring inflation down from its peak. If successful, America and other economies will get a boost. More than 9% in 2022.

Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.1% higher. The stock ended the year up more than 26%, led by strong profits at semiconductor makers.

Markets remained closed in South Korea and Thailand.

Wall Street was mostly quiet on Thursday, ahead of the final trading day of the year, although every major index is on track for weekly gains.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 4,783.35. It is on track for its ninth consecutive week of gains and is up more than 24% for the year. The two-month rally has taken the benchmark index closer to breaking its all-time high set in January 2022.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1% to 37,710.10.

The Nasdaq Composite fell less than 0.1% to 15,095.14. It has outperformed the broader market this year and is on track to close 2023 with gains of more than 44%.

Some economic indicators have come out from Washington this week. The latest weekly report on unemployment benefits showed that applications rose last week, but not enough to raise concerns about the labor market or the broader economy. The overall employment market has remained strong throughout 2023 and has been a driving force for the economy.

Average long-term US mortgage rate retreated for the ninth consecutive week That's at its lowest level since May, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Mortgage rates have been declining since late October, along with long-term Treasury yields.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 3.84% early Friday. It crossed 5.00% in October, but has been generally declining since then.

Apple rose 0.2% after federal court ruling temporarily halted ban on sales lifted For two high-end models of the Apple Watch, which were banned by the International Trade Commission due to a patent dispute.

Shares of technology and communication companies gained the most. Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices rose 1.8%.

U.S. crude oil prices fell 3.2% on Thursday, hurting energy stocks. Hess fell 2.6%.

Early Friday, U.S. benchmark crude was up 25 cents at $72.02 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude rose 39 cents to $77.54 a barrel.

Companies will soon finish their latest financial quarters and start releasing results in January. Overall, companies in the S&P 500 have posted relatively strong gains after stumbling during the first half of 2023. This gives Wall Street more hope that the economy will remain strong in 2024.

The Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation fell to 2.6% in November from a peak of 7.1% in 2022. This has helped improve the forecast for consumers and companies worried about inflationary pressures and rising costs.

Wall Street is betting that the Fed has raised interest rates and is likely to cut rates in the new year. The central bank has held rates steady since its meeting in July and Wall Street expects it to start cutting rates in early March.

The US dollar fell to 141.23 Japanese yen from 141.41 yen in currency transactions on Friday. The euro rose to $1.1075 from $1.1063.

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