Asian stocks mixed with investors worried about oil prices

TOKYO - Global shares were mixed in Wednesday trading, with only some markets cheered by an overnight rally as investor sentiment grew cautious on lower oil prices.

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KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 lost 0.4 per cent to 4,682.53 in early trading, and Germany's DAX fell 0.3 per cent to 10,830.93. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.6 per cent to 6,276.17. U.S. shares were set to drift lower, with Dow futures down 0.1 per cent at 17,607 and S&P 500 futures losing 0.1 per cent to 2,069.40.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.3 per cent to finish at 19,033.71, but trading was muted on the last trading day of the year ahead of the New Year's holiday. People clapped in rhythm at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan's customary ceremony to close out the year. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.3 per cent to 1,961.31. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.5 per cent to 21,882.15, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.3 per cent to 3,572.88. Other regional shares were also mixed, rising in Indonesia but dropping in Taiwan and Singapore.

U.S. ECONOMY: The latest batch of U.S. economic data added to the upbeat sentiments. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index increased from the previous month, reflecting positive views on the economy and job market. Separately, a key gauge of home values indicated that U.S. home prices climbed 5.5 per cent in October from a year earlier.

THE QUOTE: "This year's Santa rally is doing what many of its predecessors have done," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. "The stock market continues to push higher on thin volume and with no need for a macro catalyst. At the moment, the market is all about sentiment and perceived value." Spooner warned that caution could set in after the new year comes.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 74 cents to $37.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, losing some of the overnight price recovery. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 65 cents to $37.14 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 120.44 yen, up from 120.37 yen late Tuesday. The euro slipped to $1.0937 from $1.0977.


AP Business Writer Alex Veiga contributed to this report.


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