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Asian markets meander in thin pre-holiday trading

Asian markets meander in thin pre-holiday trading

TOKYO (AP) — Shares were meandering in thin trading Thursday in Asia, as investors wound down ahead of the holidays.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.3 percent to 19,394.40 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.7 percent to 21,655.60. The Kospi in South Korea was flat at 1,978.60 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 edged 0.2 percent higher to 5,626.00. The Shanghai Composite index was unchanged at 3,287.25 and shares in New Zealand, Taiwan and Southeast Asia were mixed.

WALL STREET: After a mixed open, stocks finished at their lowest prices of the day. Health care companies continued to lag the market, as they've done throughout 2016. Industrial companies, which have surged since the presidential election, also eased lower. The Dow dipped 32.66 points, or 0.2 percent, to 19,941.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 5.58 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,265.18. The Nasdaq composite fell 12.51 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,471.43.

U.S. QUESTION: President-elect Donald Trump's decision to name Peter Navarro, a critic of China on trade, to head the National Trade Council has raised concerns in Asia, Mizuho Bank analysts said in a commentary. "The NTC's mission is to oversee industrial policy, and Trump has stated that its focus will be on boosting manufacturing, and leading a 'Buy America, Hire America' program. We expect this could set in motion more inward-looking U.S. trade policies, with significant risks for trade-dependent economies in the Asia-Pacific region," it said.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 17 cents to $52.66 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 81 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $52.49 a barrel Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 20 cents to $54.66 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 117.62 yen from 117.54 yen. The euro rose to $1.0438 from $1.0427.