A currency trader walks by the screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. Asian markets were higher on Thursday in a quiet post-Christmas holiday trading as strong economic data from the region and in the U.S. boosted confidence. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

European stocks flat, Asian shares up as year-end nears

December 28, 2017 - 4:56 am

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — European stocks were flat after Asian markets finished mostly higher on Thursday in quiet post-Christmas holiday trading. Strong economic data from the region and in the U.S. boosted investor confidence in some markets.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.1 percent to 7,626.12 but France's CAC 40 dipped 0.1 percent to 5,361.43. Germany's DAX also edged down 0.1 percent to 13,052.04. Futures augured a tepid start on Wall Street with S&P futures up 0.1 percent and Dow futures gaining 0.2 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: Asian stock market except Japan finished higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 erased earlier gains to finish 0.6 percent lower at 22,783.98. South Korea's Kospi surged 1.3 percent to 2,467.49 on its final trading day this year. The benchmark index in Seoul gained 22 percent in 2017. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.9 percent to 29,863.71. China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.6 percent to 3,296.38. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent to 6,088.10.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Recent strength in the U.S. economy was on display in the December Consumer Confidence Index released last night. Although it fell below the stellar readings of November and December, the trend remains strong," Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a daily commentary. "This bodes well for a solid base to consumer spending in 2018."

US CONSUMERS: The Conference Board, a business research group, said Wednesday that its consumer confidence index dipped to 122.1 in December from a revised 128.6 in November. The reading shows consumers' expectations still remain at historically strong levels that hinted continued economic growth into 2018.

SOUTH KOREA: Government data showed that retail sales jumped 5.6 percent in November from the previous month, the highest jump in several years, while industrial output at Asia's fourth-largest economy rebounded last month.

BITCOIN: The price of bitcoin sank 7.6 percent to $14,209.06 as of 9:18 a.m. GMT, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. South Korea's government announced Thursday additional measures to curb speculative trading of crypto currency in the country, including a ban on opening anonymous accounts.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 17 cents to $59.82 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 33 cents to settle at $59.64 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gained 23 cents to $66.22 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 112.77 yen from 113.23 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1935 from $1.1897.

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