Stocks rose in China and were little changed in Japan on Friday, with most world markets closed for Christmas holidays.
The mixed session followed an advance during Wall Street’s shortened Christmas Eve trading as investors began the holiday weekend seemingly untroubled over US President Donald Trump’s threat not to sign a major economic stimulus package approved by the US Congress this week.
The economic package remained in limbo after Republican lawmakers rejected Trump’s demand that the end-of-year spending bill give most Americans US$2,000 COVID-19 relief checks — far more than the US$600 members of his own party had agreed to.
The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose 0.12 percent to 194.83, falling 0.9 percent for the week.
The TAIEX on Friday rose 0.4 percent to 14,331.42, up 0.6 percent for the week.
The Shanghai Composite Index on Friday added 1 percent to 3,396.56, eking out a weekly gain of 0.05 percent.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.44 percent to 26,656.61 after the Japanese government reported that retail sales last month fell 2 percent from a year earlier, while consumer prices dropped the most they have in a decade. The index fell 0.4 percent for the week.
The broader TOPIX on Friday edged up 0.23 percent, or 4.14 points, to 1,778.41 for a weekly loss of 0.83 percent.
“The market was in the state of ‘no selling in quiet times,’” Okasan Online Securities Co said, referring to a Tokyo market maxim cautioning traders to reject the impulse to dump shares during quiet moments and remain patient until the next opportunity arises.
“The range was so narrow that no one felt shares move,” the brokerage said in a note.
Overnight gains on Wall Street lifted the Tokyo market to open higher.
However, the momentum was short-lived and investors searched for fresh news in sluggish trade.
“The news that Britain and the EU reached a trade deal meant one fewer element of uncertainty, but investors did not see it as a major trading cue,” SMBC Nikko Securities Inc said.
Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe faced tough questioning in televised parliament sessions about a scandal involving payments to his supporters, but that did not move the market either.
Among major shares, Softbank Group lost 3.15 percent following reports that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), for which the Japan-based Internet titan serves as a major shareholder, was facing an antitrust probe by Chinese authorities.
Shipping firms fared better.
Nippon Yusen KK surged 6.5 percent after the firm upgraded annual earnings outlook.
Mitsui OSK lines also soared 6.35 percent.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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