Asian equity markets were mixed on the first trading day of the year with South Korea and Thailand among the region's top losers in a thin liquidity session due to the holiday period.
The first piece of data to kick off the New Year was Chinese factory activity with HSBC's final reading on manufacturing for December hitting a three-month low. The data follows Wednesday's official reading, which missed expectations, and confirmed that the mainland economy lost some momentum in the final quarter of 2013.
"The biggest surprise here is the weak new export order reading with new orders contracting. We had the Korea PMI out earlier as well, which also showed contracting export orders so the trade cycle isn't firing on all cylinders," said Frederic Neumann, managing director and co-head of Asian Economics Research at HSBC.
(Read more: Ten trends that will shape Asia in 2014: Carnegie)