Traders in Japan weren't feeling overly jolly on Christmas day, with stocks there snapping a five-day winning streak in holiday thinned trade Thursday, but China shares rallied, led by financials.
The Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.3 percent to end at 17,808.75, after tacking on more than 6.5 percent over the previous five sessions. The index is up around 2 percent so far in December. The yen was nearly flat around 120.13.
Most markets across Asia were shuttered for the Christmas holiday, with Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea all closed.
Among heavyweight stocks in Japan, Sony shed 0.5 percent. The company was the target of a hacking attack that the U.S. government has blamed on North Korea, reportedly in as the isolated country objected to the film "The Interview" depicting a planned assassination of its leader Kim Jong Un. Earlier Wednesday, Sony released "The Interview" on multiple web sites including Google's YouTube video streaming platform, as many theaters hesitated to screen the film.
Shares of Japan Airlines dropped 4.0 percent. At the end of March, Japan's government plans to eliminate a corporate tax break used by the company, the Nikkei reported.
Shares in China surged, with the Shanghai Composite ending up 3.4 percent.
Bank shares climbed, with ICBC rising 3.0 percent, China Construction Bank adding 6.8 percent and the Bank of China gaining 4.5 percent. Local media reported that the People's Bank of China (PBOC) planned further measures to ease banks' liquidity conditions.