Asian markets closed mostly lower Thursday, on worries about global growth after Goldman Sachs forecast a U.S. recession this year. Both Japan and South Korea closed over 1 percent lower.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to give a speech on the U.S. economy later in the session. This, and policy meetings at the European Central Bank and Bank of England later in the day, kept a lid on market movements.
Spot gold was steady at around $882 an ounce, after hitting a record above $891 Wednesday, with strong investor demand underpinning sentiment. Gold and other commodities have started the year around record levels, with investment funds diversifying their portfolios to hedge against declining equity markets amid a credit crunch.
Japanese stocks closed lower, led down by property shares and automakers on worries about the lingering impact of the global credit crunch and the health of the U.S. economy. The Nikkei 225 Average shed 1.4 percent. Bargain-hunting in high tech shares and defensives such as drugmakers kept falls limited, but growing gloom about the economy as seen by a fall in November leading indicators kept investors from active buying.