HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed in quiet trade on Wednesday following another record close on Wall Street, while the euro rallied after a deal was agreed in Germany to form a coalition government.
Investors seemed little moved in early exchanges by news that two US B-52 bombers flew over a disputed area of the East China Sea without telling Beijing, in a challenge to China's newly declared air defence identification zone.
Tokyo slipped 0.42 per cent, or 65.61 points, to 15,449.63 and Sydney eased 0.45 per cent, or 24.1 points, to 5,332.9 but Seoul ended up 0.31 per cent, or 6.17 points, at 2,028.81 points, while Shanghai added 0.82 per cent, or 18.00 points, to 2,201.07.
Hong Kong climbed 0.53 per cent, or 125.07 points, to 23,806.35.
With the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States closing markets on Thursday and half of Friday, analysts said dealers on Wall Street are beginning to wind down, which is having a knock-on effect globally.
However, on Tuesday the tech-rich Nasdaq jumped 0.58 per cent to 4,017.75, the first time it has ended above 4,000 since the 2000 dot com bust. The Dow added 0.26 points to end at another record high, while the S&P 500, which last week broke 1,800 for the first time, edged up 0.01 per cent.
The gains came despite data from the Conference Board showing US consumer confidence fell in November to its lowest level since April, suggesting the deal in Washington to avert a debt default last month failed to reassure people.
BK Asset Management currency analyst Kathy Lien said the data will be noted at the Federal Reserve, which is yet to announce when it will start winding down its stimulus programme.
"Even if there are more jobs, consumers need to be confident to spend," she told Dow Jones Newswires, adding that "retailers are worried that this holiday shopping season could be the weakest since 2009", during the global financial crisis.
She said that if they are right the Fed would not be able to begin its "taper" this year, putting downward pressure on the dollar.
The greenback sank in New York after the release of the confidence figures, ending Tuesday at 101.31 yen, compared with 101.51 yen earlier in the day in Asia.
However, on Wednesday it was up at 101.65 yen.
The euro surged $1.3596 and a four-year-high 138.16 yen at one point in Asia on news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had agreed to form a coalition government, ending two months of uncertainty in Europe's biggest economy after a general election.
Traders were also lifted by speculation the European Central Bank will hold off any new monetary easing measures at its next policy meeting, after cutting rates to a record low earlier this month.
The single currency eased to $1.3575 and 138.01 yen in the late afternoon, compared with $1.3569 and 137.46 yen in New York on Tuesday.
On oil markets, Brent stabilised after briefly tumbling more than two per cent on Monday in response to Iran's nuclear deal, which had fuelled fears of a crude supply glut. In afternoon exchanges the contract for January was down 22 cents at $110.66.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for January eased 32 cents to $93.36.
Gold fetched $1,252.73 per ounce at 1135 GMT compared with $1,250.87 on Tuesday.
In other markets:
- Bangkok rose 1.06 per cent, or 14.42 points, to 1,373.11. Coal producer Banpu gained 2.59 per cent or 0.75 baht to 29.75 baht and PTT Plc rose 1.37 per cent or 4.00 baht to 295.00 baht.
- Jakarta added 0.38 per cent, or 16.23 points, to 4,251.49. Asia Pacific Fibers rose 2.56 per cent to 80 rupiah, while Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper lost 1.96 per cent to 1,500 rupiah.
- Kuala Lumpur rose 0.02 per cent, or 0.33 points, to 1,798.46. Genting Malaysia ended 3.2 per cent higher at 4.23 ringgit while RHB Capital lost 1.8 per cent to 7.71.
- Manila climbed 0.47 per cent, adding 28.50 points to 6,053.87. Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 0.85 per cent to 2,604 pesos, JG Summit added 1.80 per cent to 39.55 pesos and Metropolitan Bank ended 1.56 per cent up to 75.00 pesos.
- Mumbai slipped 0.02 per cent, or 4.76 points, to 20,420.26. Pharma firm Wockhardt slid 8.87 per cent to 430.15 rupees and Jet Airways fell 4.11 per cent to 293.8 rupees.
- Singapore slipped 0.05 per cent, or 1.45 points, to 3,172.06. Singapore Telecom rose 1.90 per cent to Sg$3.76 while real estate developer Capitaland eased 0.33 per cent to Sg$3.01.
- Taipei rose 0.58 per cent, or 47.86 points, to 8,295.88. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co climbed 1.45 per cent to Tw$105.0 while Taiwan Cement was 3.21 per cent higher at Tw$45.0.
- Wellington rose 0.18 per cent, or 8.60 points, to 4,799.35. Fletcher Building climbed 0.3 per cent to NZ$9.22, Telecom added 2.4 per cent to NZ$2.31 and Air New Zealand was 0.9 per cent higher at NZ$1.64.