Nikkei down after holiday break

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Continue reading the main story

Japan’s main share index was lower in early trading on Monday, as Asia’s markets reopened for the first full week in 2015.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 was down 0.7% at 17,334 despite ending 2014 up 8%.

Investors shrugged off data that showed Japan’s manufacturing activity grew in December.

The Markit/JMMA purchasing managers index (PMI) was at 52, unchanged from November’s reading. A score above 50 indicates growth.

The dollar, meanwhile, was steady at 120.31 yen, from 120.49 the previous day.

However, the euro fell to its lowest since 2006, buying just $ 1.186, compared to a low of $ 1.2002 on Friday.

A combination of a strong US dollar, a healthy US economy and the possibility of Greece exiting the eurozone exaggerated the fall, on a day when trading was light.

China shares mixed

In China, shares headed in the opposite direction with the Hang Seng index lower by 0.5% to 23,745.

Shares of Macau casino operator Melco Crown fell over 6% after it announced a plan on Friday to withdraw its listing from Hong Kong for “cost savings” reasons.

The news came after the world’s biggest gaming hub, Macau, recorded its first annual decline in gambling revenue since casinos were liberalised there in 2001.

Meanwhile, mainland China shares headed higher with the Shanghai Composite up 0.8% to 3,259 on hopes of further monetary easing by the government to boost the economy.

Australia’s manufacturing eases

Australian shares headed higher on Monday morning, despite a survey showing weakness in the country’s manufacturing sector last month.

The Australian Industry Group’s PMI fell to 46.9, below the 50 level that indicates growth.

Firms reported a sharp drop in new orders in December.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3% to 5,453.

In South Korea, the Kospi was lower 0.8% to 1,910.6 after closing up 0.6% on Friday.

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