Asian Markets Close Flat, Tokyo and Seoul Slip
Asian stock markets took a breather Monday and were largely unchanged from Friday's close, after posting their best weekly gain in more than three months last week. Japan and South Korea both closed a touch lower.
Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui warned that the U.S. economy risks further slowdown if ongoing adjustments in its housing sector deepen further.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average ended slightly lower after gaining more than 5 percent the previous week, as exporters such as Canon slipped on a slightly stronger yen. But domestic demand-reliant shares such as property firms supported the market as investors put money into stocks that are less sensitive to currency moves.
South Korea's KOSPI finished slightly lower with Hyundai Motor down after reporting a fall in November sales, while hanarotelecom
slid after a $1.2 billion deal to sell a major stake in the group to SK Telecom was announced.
Australian shares ended flat after a seesaw session, as hopes of a U.S. interest rate cut
buoyed U.S.-exposed firms such as Westfield Group, while persistent credit market worries saw most of the major banks pare initial gains.
Hong Kong blue chips closed flat after rising almost 1 percent, as real-estate stocks such as Sun Hung Kai Properties gained on expectations of a further interest rate cut this month. Shares in media services firm TOM Group finished 23 percent higher after a report said that its major shareholder, tycoon Li Ka-shing, had invested $60 million in fast-growing social network Facebook.
Singapore's Straits Times Index also ended flat after making solid gains earlier in the session. Shares of Straits Asia Resources jumped 2.5 percent by the close, after Macquarie Research reinitiated coverage of the firm with an "outperform rating".
China's Shanghai Composite Index finished largely unchanged on the day, following a lackluster debut of China Railway Group,whose gains on its first day of trade were at the low end of analysts' expectations.