HONG KONG - Asian markets edged lower in subdued holiday trade Monday with Tokyo stocks buoyed by a weaker yen amid dimming chances of fresh stimulus measures by the US Federal Reserve.
Tokyo's Nikkei index briefly breached the 9,200 level for the first time in more than three months as the yen initially eased against the dollar with dealers continuing to shift away from the safe haven Japanese currency.
The Nikkei ended flat, gaining 0.09 per cent as late profit-taking offset early gains, to 9,171.16. Sydney eased 0.13 per cent, or 5.8 points, to close at 4,364.3, while Seoul ended flat at 1,946.31.
In the afternoon Hong Kong lost 0.3 per cent as Shanghai dipped 0.40 per cent.
"The eventual bias is skewed downwards, as the recent market rally had priced in plenty of expectations for easing actions from both the US and Europe," said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at KGI Asia.
European stocks ended last week higher while US markets closed it out with solid gains, with the Dow hitting its highest level since the last days of 2007 and the S&P 500 just shy of its four-year peak.
The Dow Jones Industrial Index ended 0.51 per cent higher for the week at 13,275.20. The broader S&P 500 picked up 0.87 per cent to 1,418.16, while the Nasdaq gained 1.84 per cent to close at 3,076.59.
The dollar strengthened against most Asian currencies following a raft of economic data for the July-August period that was, if not full of spark, notably not negative, lowering chances of a new round of monetary stimulus.
Consumer prices were flat, jobless claims unchanged, some manufacturing indicators were lower but retail sales improved in the world's largest economy.
The dollar stabilised against the yen in Tokyo trade, after gaining 1.7 per cent against the Japanese currency last week.
The greenback bought 79.48 yen in afternoon trade against 79.55 yen in New York late Friday, while the euro was worth $1.2328, slightly down from $1.2330 in US trade. The euro eased to 97.98 yen from 98.10 yen.