Asian Shares Mixed Amid Thin Trading

Asian stocks were trading mixed on Friday but held near 18-month highs in thin pre-Christmas trading.

Investor sentiment got a boot after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said an initial U.S.-China trade deal would be signed in early January.

Mnuchin said the agreement had already been put down on paper and translated, and it would not be subject to renegotiation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has passed a $1.4-trillion spending package that will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year and prevent a possible government shutdown this weekend.

Chinese markets slipped into red, giving up early gains. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index edged down 0.15 percent to 3,012 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.25 percent to 27,868.

Japan's Nikkei index slid 0.3 percent after the release of inflation data. A government report showed that Japan's core consumer prices rose 0.5 percent in November from a year earlier, remaining well below the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) 2 percent price objective.

Large-caps succumbed to profit taking after recent gains, with Toyota Motor, Sony and Fanuc giving up 1-3 percent.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.35 percent, with consumer stocks retreating after robust jobs data dampened expectations of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

South Korea's Kospi index and New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index gained around 0.2 percent as investors cheered another record-breaking performance on Wall Street.

U.S. stocks climbed to new record highs overnight, oil topped $61 a barrel and Treasuries edged higher after China said it would exempt 16 categories of U.S. products from tariffs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 rose around half a percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.7 percent.

European markets ended mixed on Thursday as investors digested interest rate decisions from the central banks and looked past the historic impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished 0.2 percent higher. The German DAX slipped 0.1 percent, while France's CAC 40 index inched up 0.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent.

The dollar held steady against a basket of currencies and gold inched lower on increased risk appetite while oil prices held steady near three-month highs.

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