Chinese stocks are ending the year about 14 percent lower than when they began 2010, as investors have been fretting in recent months that the government will take aggressive measures to cool the overheating economy and keep a lid on surging inflation. Authorities in Beijing have hiked interest rates twice in just over two months and have also raised the amount of money banks need to keep in reserve instead of lending out. Investors fear there are more such moves in store for 2011.
The Shanghai index has fared poorly compared with other major benchmarks.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX finished the year up nearly 1,000 points, or around 16 percent, the FTSE 100 is on track to be 10 percent higher and the CAC-40 will likely end about 2.5 percent lower.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 36.11 points, or 0.2 percent, in a shortened trading session to end the year at 23,035.45. The benchmark index gained about 7 percent this year.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average fell 1.1 percent on Thursday to close at 10,228.92. It ended the year down around 3 percent, mainly on account of concerns over a stronger yen, which hurts the country’s high-value exporters.
South Korea’s Kospi ended the year on Thursday about 22 percent higher then at the start of 2010.
Stocks in Australia and New Zealand ended lower in a shortened trading day, ending the year 2-3 percent lower than when it began.
Singapore’s benchmark was lower, while those in Taiwan and India were higher.
In currencies, the dollar fell 0.2 percent to 81.33 yen. The dollar has gradually weakened versus the yen since the start of year, when it bought about 93 yen. The euro was 0.4 percent higher at $1.3349. It has traded as high as $1.45 and as low as $1.19 in 2010.
Benchmark crude for February delivery fell 22 cents to $89.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.