Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trade

( - Asian stock markets are mixed on Monday in Christmas Eve trading as investors worried about the impact of a partial U.S. government shutdown and slowing global economic growth. News that U.S. President Donald Trump privately discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell also weighed on investor sentiment. Some of the markets will close early for Christmas.

The Australian market is modestly higher in an abbreviated trading session, recovering after falling to new two-year lows earlier in the session.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 20.30 points or 0.37 percent to 5,487.90, after falling to a low of 5,410.20 in early trade. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 19.70 points or 0.36 percent to to 5,553.00. Australian stocks closed at fresh two-year lows on Friday.

The major miners are mostly higher. Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto are rising more than 1 percent each, while BHP Group is edging down 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are weak after gold prices drifted lower Friday. Evolution Mining is losing 0.4 percent and Newcrest Mining is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent, while Westpac is losing more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly lower after crude oil prices declined on Friday. Oil Search is down 0.4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is lower by 0.5 percent, while Santos is adding 0.6 percent.

MYOB Group has recommended U.S. private equity giant KKR & Co.'s revised buyout offer for the company, saying that the proposal was in the best interest of its shareholders considering market uncertainty. The accounting software provider's shares are gaining more than 14 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7050, down from $0.7106 on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, New Zealand and Malaysia are also higher, while South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all modestly lower. Japan and Indonesia are closed for public holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Friday as traders kept an eye on developments on Capitol Hill, with a shutdown of several key government agencies just hours away. Ahead of a midnight deadline, lawmakers appeared to be at an impasse over funding for President Donald Trump's controversial wall on the border with Mexico.

The Dow slumped 414.23 points or 1.8 percent to 22,445.37, the Nasdaq plummeted 195.41 points or 3 percent to 6,332.99 and the S&P 500 tumbled 50.80 points or 2.1 percent to 2,416.62.

Meanwhile, the major European markets ended modestly higher on Friday. While the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent and the French CAC Index closed just above the unchanged line.

Crude oil futures ended lower on Friday, extending losses from previous session amid concerns over excess supply in the market and on near term demand growth worries. WTI crude for February declined $0.29 or 0.6 percent to close at $45.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement price since 12 July 2017.

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