Asian Shares Rise On Last Trading Day Of The Year

Asian stocks closed mostly higher on their last trading session of the year despite lingering inflation concerns and soaring Covid-19 cases in China.

The dollar index weakened a little bit after the latest U.S. jobless claims data signaled a softening labor market. Gold and oil prices traded higher in Asian trading on the dollar weakness.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 percent to 3,089.26 but ended 2022 down more than 14 percent, hit by harsh anti-coronavirus curbs and a crackdown on corporate debt. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.2 percent to 19,781.41.

Japanese shares ended on a flat note due to many uncertainties in overseas markets. The Nikkei 225 Index finished marginally higher at 26,094.50 but posted its first annual loss in four years.

The broader Topix edged down 0.2 percent to close at 1,891.71 – losing 5 percent for the year. Heavyweight Fast Retailing and shipping firms were among the top gainers of the day, while energy stocks underperformed.

The yen extended its rebound as the Bank of Japan announced a third day of unscheduled bond purchases.

Seoul markets were closed for a holiday. The Kospi average fell nearly 25 percent in 2022.

Australian markets eked out modest gains but ended the year deep in the red. The benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index rose 0.3 percent to 7,038.70, with financials, energy and tech stocks pacing the gainers. The index lost over 5 percent for the year.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index dropped 0.6 percent to 11,473.24.

U.S. stocks rallied overnight as investors sought to snap up bargains in the tech sector, looking past worries that new variants could emerge from China’s continuing Covid outbreak.

Investors also digested data showing that jobless claims rose slightly in the week ended December 24 but held near historic lows.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index surged 2.6 percent, the S&P 500 jumped 1.8 percent and the Dow added 1.1 percent.

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