Asian markets mixed as crude oil prices decline
This year marks the fourth year of straight gains for the Japanese benchmark, the Nikkei 225 Reuters

Asian stock markets were mixed amid a lack of cues for investors ahead of the New Year. Australia's benchmark index, the S&P/ASX 200, closed higher at 5,207.60, up 1.28%, while India's CNX Nifty was trading at 7,902.95, up 0.53%.

China's Shanghai Composite Index was trading lower by 2.59% at 3,533.78. The country's banking shares led the fall following weak Chinese industrial output data. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.96% at 21,924.59.

Japan's Nikkei 225 was trading higher by 0.56% at 18,873.35. Though it reported soft domestic production and retail data, the index gained because of a rebound in crude oil prices. The South Korean Kospi was trading lower by 1.34% at 1,964.06.

Martin King, co-managing director at Tyton Capital Advisors said: "Disappointing production and retail figures have crushed the chances of any sort of photo-finish for the Nikkei this year. But oil holding in the high 30s will provide some welcome respite for energy companies at year-end and see the index close out 2015 in 19,000 point territory."

This year marks the fourth year of straight gains for the Japanese benchmark and could in part be attributed to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reflationary policies.

In commodities, WTI crude oil was down 1.18% at $37.65 a barrel, while Brent crude was trading at $37.64 a barrel, down 0.66%. These prices are, however, significantly above $33.98, the lowest level since February 2009. The prices have recovered in the last week on falling inventories, reduced drilling and the lifting of a ban on most US crude exports.