Asian stocks mostly lower in sluggish trade


HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly lower Monday in dwindling year-end trade, but Japan’s market rose modestly amid hopes a pickup in trade could help the world’s second-biggest economy avoid another recession.

A number of markets fluctuated in a narrow range, while the dollar was slightly lower against the euro after strengthening last week and higher against the yen. Oil and gold prices were little changed.

Tokyo’s market got a boost after the country’s exports posted their smallest fall in 14 months with the help of robust Asian demand. The news raised hopes a turnaround in Japan’s export sector, the engine of the country’s economy, is sustainable.

Sentiment in the region was dampened by losses in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Investors were spooked by signs China’s government may step up restrictions on the booming real estate sector and the country’s banks may have to raise billions in new capital.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average led Asia, gaining 41.42 points, or 0.4 percent, to 10,183.47. Markets in Taiwan and Thailand also rose.

Hong Kong’s benchmark dropped 135.69 points, or 0.6 percent, to 21,040.19 and Shanghai’s key index fell 0.2 percent to 3,106.00.

South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.2 percent, Australia’s market lost 0.3 percent and Singapore’s index shed 0.2 percent.

Friday on Wall Street, the Dow rose 20.63, or 0.2 percent, to 10,328.89, after dropping 133 points Thursday.

The broader S&P 500 index rose 6.39, or 0.6 percent, to 1,102.47, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 31.64, or 1.5 percent, to 2,211.69.

For the week, the Dow fell 1.4 percent, the S&P 500 index fell 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1 percent.

Oil prices were little changed in Asia, with benchmark crude for January delivery down 11 cents to $73.25. The January contract, which expires later on Monday, rose 71 cents on Friday.

The dollar rose to 90.40 yen from 90.33 yen. The euro advanced to $1.4336 from $1.4305.