HONG KONG - Asian markets were marginally lower in quiet trading Tuesday, with few economic developments or data in the region or elsewhere to drive sentiment.
Japanese shares closed 0.46 per cent lower, or 38.78 points, at 8,440.56, Seoul finished 0.79 per cent lower, or 14.68 points, at 1,842.02, and Shanghai shares ended the day off 1.09 per cent, or 23.90 points, at 2,166.21.
"We won't see too much volatility this week as investors will be cautious before the New Year holiday," Li Xiaoxuan, an analyst with Shenyin Wanguo Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Financial markets in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand were closed for public holidays, as was London, while traders awaited the re-opening of New York and other Western markets after the Christmas break.
Once international investors return to the market, they will focus on US economic data, including the Case-Shiller home price index to be released later in the day, said Yumi Nishimura, senior market analyst at Daiwa Securities.
"US housing data have been firm lately," she said. "More solid data will likely push the Nikkei above 8,500."
On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 3.6 per cent to end the week at 12,294.00 points. The tech-focused Nasdaq rose 2.5 per cent for the week and the broader S&P 500 added 3.7 per cent.
Those rises came in reaction to upbeat US economic data, with weekly claims for unemployment benefits falling to their lowest level since April 2008, and a move in Congress to extend temporary tax breaks and unemployment benefits.
Last week, the European Central Bank moved to give hundreds of billions of euros in cheap loans to under-pressure lenders, but while it provided them with a lifeline it also highlighted the region's massive fiscal problems.
On currency markets, the dollar stood at 77.90 yen (S$1.2969), largely unchanged from 77.99 (S$1.2984) yen in Tokyo Monday.
The euro was also flat at $1.3070 and 101.80 yen (S$1.6948), compared with $1.3059 and 101.88 yen (S$1.6962) on Monday.
New York's main oil contract light sweet crude for February delivery lost 12 cents to $99.63 (S$129.1852) a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for February delivery shed 11 cents to $108.06 (S$140.116).