Asian markets mostly fell yesterday and the euro slipped as concerns over the Eurozone debt crisis refused to abate, before Italy held an auction of long-term debt.
With trading light due to the Christmas holidays, Asia also had little cue for direction from Wall Street and Europe despite Rome having enjoyed a successful sale of short-term bonds on Wednesday.
Tokyo shed 0.29 per cent, or 24.73 points, to end at 8,398.89 while Sydney fell 0.43 per cent, or 17.7 points, to 4,071.1.
Hong Kong fell 0.65 per cent, or 120.75 points, to 18,397.92.
Seoul was flat, edging up 0.62 points to 1,825.74 on the market's last trading day of the year, while Shanghai staged an afternoon spurt to end 0.16 per cent, or 3.55 points, up at 2,173.56.
Japanese exporters were hurt as the yen surged to its highest level against the euro since June 2001, with dealers nervous ahead of the Italian bond sale.
Markets took scant relief from Italy's auction on Wednesday of €9.0 billion ($11.8 billion) in six-month bonds at low rates, with broader Eurozone worries still dominating trade.
After Asian markets closed, Italy raised €7.0 billion in a 10-year bond issue with interest rates held below the danger threshold of seven per cent, suggesting improved market confidence.
The amount raised however fell below a maximum sought of €8.5 billion and the rate on bonds due in 2021 was 6.7 per cent — higher than the 5.77 per cent for the last similar sale in October.
News that Eurozone banks deposited a record amount of overnight funds at the European Central Bank on Tuesday — breaking the record set the day before — indicated lingering tensions in the single-currency zone.
Banks put €452.03 billion on deposit for 24 hours at the ECB overnight on Tuesday, beating the previous record of €411.8 billion set on Monday.
Rising levels of deposits are seen as a sign of market tension, with heavy use of the facility suggesting banks favour parking the money at low interest rates rather than lending to each other.
The huge amounts indicate banks are hoarding cash after more than 500 of them last week borrowed a record €489.2 billion from the ECB in a new three-year lending facility.