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Asia stocks mixed in muted session, dollar recovers some losses

Asian stocks were mixed on Tuesday, in thin trade and with little to guide them as most major markets were closed on Monday for Christmas holidays, while the dollar reclaimed its losses from Monday.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat, with Australia and New Zealand closed for a holiday in lieu of Christmas.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.3%, buoyed by a weaker yen. China’s CSI 300 index was little changed while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2%, despite positive data.

The mainland’s industrial sector showed stronger profit growth in November, suggesting the economy was improving, but policymakers noted growth was too dependent on a rebound in the prices for oil products and iron and steel.

The Hang Seng index slid 0.3%.

“It is the time of the year when markets trade with hushed tones,” Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG, wrote in a note. “The magnitude of moves could remain capped with thin market trades expected to remain the case.”

On Friday, Wall Street closed slightly higher in thin trade. The 10-year US Treasury yield extended gains by almost 1% on Tuesday, more than recovering Monday’s losses.

The decline came after data on Friday showed US consumer spending increased modestly in November as household income failed to rise for the first time in nine months. The data suggested the economy slowed in the fourth quarter after growing briskly in the prior period.

Still the slowdown in growth is likely to be temporary, with the labour market near full employment, house prices rising and the stock market rallying close to record highs. Consumer confidence, in addition, is at its highest level since July 2007.

European stocks were little changed on Friday, although banks rose after Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse settled investigations into US mortgage securities sales, while Italy’s government approved a bailout for the nation’s largest lender, Monte dei Paschi.

“Shares are overbought and due for a bit of profit-taking but moves toward a resolution of bank woes are helping in Europe, global economic data is mostly good and the period around Christmas/New Year is normally positive for shares,” Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney, wrote in a note.

The bounce-back in US yields boosted the dollar, which also recovered Monday’s losses with a 0.3% gain to 117.39 yen on Tuesday.

The Japanese currency retreated after data on Tuesday showed the nation’s core consumer prices declined for the ninth straight month in November, and that household spending fell even as job availability hit a fresh 25-year high.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global peers, added 0.1% to 103.13, half a% below the highest level since December 2002 hit a week ago.

The euro was 0.2% lower at $1.0435 on Tuesday.

In commodities, oil prices gained on Tuesday, on output cuts by both OPEC and non-OPEC producers that are set to start in less than a week.

US crude added 0.1% to $53.09 a barrel. Global benchmark Brent was steady at $55.13.