Asian markets turned lower on Thursday as the dealers begin to wind down ahead of the Christmas break and as the rally fuelled by the China-US trade pact loses steam.

There was little major reaction after the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump as he is unlikely to be removed from office by the Republican-held senate.

With few catalysts to drive business, investors were taking it easy after a rollercoaster year that has seen equities swing back and forth mostly by trade rows between the US and China as well as other major allies, while Brexit has also played a key role.

The hope is that now Washington and China have reached a partial tariffs agreement -- and British politics is on a more even keel after last week's decisive election win for pro-Brexiter Boris Johnson -- markets can enjoy a healthy 2020.

Analysts pointed to a recent run of positive economic data around the world that indicate the slowdown in global growth could be nearing a bottom, which could help Wall Street extend its record-breaking run.

"The trade deal relief rally looks set to take on a fundamental shift as the global growth rally trade of 2020 starts to build momentum on the back of the decisive run of comprehensive economic data to end the year," said Stephen Innes at AxiTrader.

Last Friday's China-US pact provided a boost to global markets -- which had already been rallying for weeks in anticipation of a deal -- but they were unable to keep up the pace as this week rolled on.

On Wednesday the Down and S&P 500 dipped slightly, though the Nasdaq managed to eke out yet another all-time high.

Asia was on the back foot. Hong Kong dipped 0.3 percent in the morning and Shanghai fell 0.1 percent while Tokyo went into the break 0.3 percent lower.

Sydney fell 0.2 percent and Singapore dropped 0.4 percent while there were also losses in Taipei, Manila and Jakarta.

However, Seoul was flat and Wellington rose 0.8 percent.

"With the holiday season nearly upon us, attention seems more focused on flights home and calorific intakes then flights to quality," said OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley.

High-yielding currencies were enjoying strong buying as the optimistic tone boosted demand for riskier assets, with South Korea's won, the South African rand, and Australian and New Zealand dollars all well in the green.

Donald Trump Impeachment
Donald Trump became only the third president in history to be impeached, though there was little reaction in markets as he is unlikely to be removed from office by the Republican-held senate Photo: AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 23,862.67 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 27,797.41

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,013.05

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3085 from $1.3082 at 2140 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 85.00 pence from 84.96 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1124 from $1.1116

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.57 yen from 109.59 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP one cent at $67.18 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP one cent at $60.94 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,239.28 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,540.75 (close)

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