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Asia stocks mixed; Nikkei ends down 0.6%

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Shutterstock photo - Asian stock markets were mixed in cautious trade on Tuesday, with markets in Japan extending losses from the previous session as a stronger yen continued to weigh.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up 0.05%, Australia's ASX/200 Index ended 0.15% lower, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed down 0.59%.

Asia was given a negative lead from the U.S., where the Dow and S&P 500 closed lower following the release of weaker-than-expected service sector data.

The Institute of Supply Management said its non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to 53.0 in December from 53.9 in November. Analysts were expecting the index to increase to 54.5.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei ended close to the previous session's three-week low as traders monitored movements in the currency market.

USD/JPY fell to 104.16, moving further away from last week's five-year high of 105.43. A stronger yen decreases the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, dampening the outlook for export earnings.

Automakers Toyota and Honda saw shares decline 0.5% and 1.05% respectively, while Canon and Fanuc lost 0.75% and 0.9%.

Elsewhere, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng swung between small gains and losses amid ongoing concerns over tightening liquidity conditions in the financial system and rising interbank lending rates. Investors have remained cautious over the level of bad debt at Chinese banks, particularly when interbank lending rates are high.

China Construction Bank lost 0.7%, China Merchants Bank fell 1.4%, while China Citic Bank slumped 1%.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index edged lower as losses in the mining sector weighed on the benchmark index.

Fortescue Metals Group tumbled 4.7%, while BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto slumped 0.95% and 2.6% respectively.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a higher open. The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.2% at the open, France's CAC 40 futures added 0.2%, London's FTSE 100 futures indicated a rise of 0.1%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a gain of 0.25% at the open.

Data released earlier showed that German retail sales rose 1.5% in November, more than double expectations for an increase of 0.6%.

Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets pointed to a flat open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a gain of 0.02%, S&P 500 futures were little changed, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated an increase of 0.04%. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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