Asia Markets

Chinese stocks higher in last trading day of the year; Shanghai soars more than 20% for 2019

Key Points
  • For 2019, the Shanghai composite has seen gains of more than 22%, while the Shenzhen component has soared about 44%. The Shenzhen composite has also seen returns of approximately 35.9%.
  • That came following 2018, when Chinese markets saw their worst performance in a decade.
  • China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December came in slightly above expectations on Tuesday, according to the country's statistics bureau.
  • Shares in Australia and Hong Kong closed early on Tuesday, with major Asian markets in Japan and South Korea already shut for 2019.

Chinese stocks were higher on the final trading day of 2019, with other major markets in Asia either on holiday or seeing an early close.

The Shanghai composite edged 0.33% higher to about 3,050.12 while the Shenzhen component added 0.63% to 10,430.77. The Shenzhen composite also rose 0.551% to approximately 1,722.95.

For 2019, the Shanghai composite has seen gains of more than 22%, while the Shenzhen component has soared about 44%. The Shenzhen composite has also seen returns of approximately 35.9%. That came following 2018, when Chinese markets saw their worst performance in a decade.

China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December came in slightly above expectations on Tuesday, according to the country's statistics bureau.

The PMI figure for December came in at 50.2, slightly above expectations of a 50.1 reading by economists in a Reuters poll. The 50 level in PMI readings separates expansion from contraction.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined 0.46% to close early at 28,189.75 as shares of Chinese tech giants Tencent and Alibaba fell more than 1.98% and 1.61%, respectively. The moves left the Hang Seng index with gains of about 9% for 2019.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia fell in an early close for New Year's Eve. The S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.78% to 6,684.10 as almost all sectors declined.

The heavily weighted financial subindex fell 1.34% as shares of Australia's so-called Big Four banks saw losses. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group shed 0.69%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 1.48%, Westpac slipped 0.7% and National Australia Bank declined 1.04%.

Overall, the S&P/ASX 200 surged more than 18% in 2019.

The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was 0.44% lower.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 183.12 points to close at 28,462.14 while the S&P 500 fell 0.5% to end its trading day at 3,221.29. The two indices suffered their worst day in four weeks. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.6% lower at 8,945.99.

Market sentiment globally has largely improved in December with U.S. and China recently reaching an agreement on a phase one trade deal.

The South China Morning Post, citing a source, reported Monday that top Chinese trade negotiator and Vice Premier Liu He is set to visit Washington this week to sign the phase one deal with the U.S.

Beijing has accepted the U.S. invitation for a deal signing in Washington, and the Chinese delegation will stay in the U.S. for a few days until the middle of next week, according to the report.

"They haven't really seemed to have an awful lot of progress until the last six weeks or so, And even then it's very vague," Richard Harris, chief executive of Port Shelter Investment Management, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday. "There's supposed to be an 86-page trade deal, we haven't seen anything like that. we don't really know what the details are."

"We look as if we're just scratching the surface if there is some sort of deal done and it is at a ministerial level, it will really only I think be reinforcing what's happening at the moment," Harris said.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.697 after seeing an earlier high of 96.733.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.65 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 109.2 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7008 after rising from levels below $0.692 last week.

Oil prices declined in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures 0.21% lower at $66.53 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also shed 0.29% to $61.50 per barrel.

— CNBC's Yun Li contributed to this report.