ASIA MARKETS: Nikkei Lifted By Retail, China Stocks Struggle

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Chinese and Taiwan stocks underperformed early Tuesday, as Boxing Day meant some regional markets were closed while others saw their first action of the week following Christmas.

Shenzhen equities built on Monday's declines. The small-cap market has struggled in 2017, and the Shenzhen Composite was recently down 0.6% while the startup-heavy ChiNext fell 0.8%.

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The Shanghai Composite , which includes more state-owned enterprises than the Shenzhen indexes, was essentially flat with Monday's finish. There, Chinese authorities approved new developments, lifting Shanghai free-trade-zone-related shares.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Taiex followed Monday's largely flat performance with a 0.7% decline as selling built into late morning. Index heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor(2330.TW) fell 0.9% and Apple product assembler Hon Hai (2317.TW) --known to many as Foxconn--dropped 1.2%.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was down 0.2% in early afternoon trading, after setting its latest 26-year closing high Monday. But department stores rose solidly Tuesday after Takashimaya posted solid fiscal third-quarter earnings, raising the prospects of higher consumer spending.

New government data showed household spending rose 1.7% in November from a year earlier, much better than the 0.5% increase that had been expected. The rise includes an increase in luxury spending, which Okasan Securities strategist Yoshinori Ogawa said was likely to do with the strong Japanese stock-market gains seen since September.

Takashimaya (8007.TO) jumped 3.8% Tuesday morning and Isetan Mitsukoshi (3099.TO) rose 1.9%.

The dollar was little changed Tuesday after scant moves Monday. But 10-year Japanese government bond yields moved up some, rising to 0.045% from 0.035%.

The Nikkei has been capped just below 23,000 for weeks after jumping about 20% from September to November. Okasan Securities' Ogawa said one focus in 2018 will be the Bank of Japan's possible shifts away from extraordinary easing programs as other major central banks tighten their own policy.

"Stock markets have been boosted by excess liquidity," he added. "Any changes to that will be a hot topic."

Indexes in South Korea and Singapore were near Friday's closing levels in their first action of the week. Those still closed Tuesday included Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Bitcoin was near its session highs midday Tuesday -- around $15,071, according to CoinDesk, versus $13,200 midday Monday in Asia.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 26, 2017 01:05 ET (06:05 GMT)