Asia stocks stutter amid thinner pre-holiday trade

Asian shares lost ground on Thursday amid thinner pre-holiday trade, after the Dow failed to reach the 20,000 mark overnight.

Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.33 percent, while in South Korea, the Kospi was down 0.09 percent.

The Constitutional Court of Korea will begin its first hearings on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, who is accused of letting a close friend meddle in state affairs and wield insider influence for personal gain.

Chinese shares also traded lower: the Shanghai composite was down 0.18 percent while the Shenzhen composite dipped 0.318 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was down 0.89 percent.

“Markets have slipped into a holiday trading mood, with equities and major currencies hovering in recent ranges,” said Chang Wei Liang, FX strategist at Mizuho Bank, in a note on Thursday.

Markets in Australasia were an exception, with Australia’s ASX 200 up 0.33 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 0.473 percent higher.

California-based 3D printing company Robo 3D made its debut on the Australian Securities Exchange. The stock opened at A$0.15 per share, a premium after being priced at A$0.10. It last traded up 30.84 percent at A$0.14.

Over in New Zealand, the economy had surged ahead in the third quarter of the calendar year, as domestic consumption, home building and tourism boomed. The country’s third-quarter gross domestic product jumped 1.1 percent, beating Reuters forecast of a 0.9 percent increase, and the fifth straight quarter of growth at 0.7 percent or higher.

In economic news, central banks in the Philippines and Taiwan will announce monetary policy decisions.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.16 percent to close at 19,941.96.

The elusive 20,000 mark for the blue chips index is seen by some investors as “a major milestone [and] until it is broken it acts as Pied Piper, or perhaps Rudolph’s nose, lighting the way for the risk-hungry and those scared of being left behind,” said Kit Juckes, macro strategist at Societe Generale, in a note on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 lost 0.25 percent at 2,265.18 while the Nasdaq composite fell 0.23 percent to 5,471.43.

On the currency front, the dollar index fell below 103, to trade at 102.94. The dollar/yen stood at 117.48, while the Australian dollar was at $0.7245 by 11:50 am HK/SIN.

Oil prices inched higher during Asian trade as the dollar softened. The U.S. crude rose 0.29 percent at $52.64 per barrel, while global benchmark Brent futures traded up 0.33 percent at $54.64. A weaker dollar makes the greenback-denominated commodities, including oil, cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Oil prices fell on Wednesday in the U.S. after Libya said it would boost production in the coming months, and a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report showed a rise in U.S. crude stockpiles

Source: CNBC