Asian closed mixed, with some boosted by resources companies such as BHP Billiton as oil and commodities prices firmed. But Tokyo closed down, staying on course to end the year as the world's worst performing major stock market.
With many investors away for the year-end holidays the U.S. dollar rifted sideways in thin trade after sliding overnight against the euro and a basket of major currencies. Oil traded around $96 a barrel, having risen 2 percent Wednesday ahead of a U.S. government report expected to show crude stocks had fallen and as Turkish war planes bombed Kurdish guerrilla targets in northern Iraq.
Strength in oil and metals lifted stocks in Australia, with the S&P/ASX 200 Index finishing 0.4 percent. All ten of the stocks that posted the biggest percentage gains were miners or oil companies, such as Woodside Petroleum. But strong post-Christmas sales crowds did not help retailers' share prices, with upmarket department store chain David Jones slipping.