- Monday's session in Asia follows fresh record highs in U.S. stocks last week amid year-end optimism in markets.
- In Hong Kong, trade data for November is set to be released on Monday afternoon as protests continue to take a toll on its economy.
- China's central bank over the weekend said that it will use the loan prime rate as a new benchmark for pricing current floating-rate loans, which analysts say could lower borrowing costs and boost growth.
Major Asia Pacific stocks ended mixed on Monday — the last full trading day of the year for several major markets in the region.
Mainland Chinese markets rose at the close of the trading day on Monday. The Shanghai composite gained 1.16% to end at 3,040.02, while the Shenzhen composite was higher by 0.92% and closed at 1,713.51. The Shenzhen component rose 1.29% to 10,365.96.
China's central bank over the weekend said that it will use the loan prime rate as a new benchmark for pricing current floating-rate loans, a move that analysts said would cut borrowing costs and give the economy a boost.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was also higher, rising more than 0.3% in its final hour of trade. The city's trade data for November is set to be released on Monday afternoon, amid ongoing pro-democracy protests that have taken a toll on its economy.
Meanwhile, Chinese private university operator Shanghai Gench Education Group is planning to list in Hong Kong, according to an application filed to the Hong Kong exchange over the weekend. It didn't state the timing of the IPO.
Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei lost 0.76% to close at 23,656.62, while the Topix fell 0.68% to 1,721.36. Autos lost ground across the board, with Honda down 1.15%, Mitsubishi falling 1.29%, and Suzuki declining 1.04%. Other sectors, such as manufacturing and retail, also saw declines.
South Korea's Kospi pared earlier gains to trade lower by 0.3%. Heavyweights declined, with Samsung Electronics losing 1.24%, and SK Hynix dropping 1.98%.
Overall, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was nearly flat in the afternoon.
In corporate news, Singapore's largest telco Singtel announced it's partnering with ride-hailing firm Grab to apply for a digital banking license in Singapore, according to a joint statement by both companies on Monday.
Monday's session in Asia follows fresh record highs in U.S. stocks last week amid year-end optimism in markets.
Oil prices rose during the afternoon of Asia hours, after the U.S. military carried out "precision defense strikes" in Iraq and Syria against a militia group following a string of attacks on Iraqi bases that host American service members. The Pentagon said in a statement that three locations in Iraq and two in Syria were targeted by U.S. forces.
In currencies, the U.S. dollar was around 96.779, falling back from an earlier high of 97.002.
Here's the economic calendar for Monday (all times in HK/SIN):
- 4:30 p.m.: Hong Kong's exports and imports data