Asia, Pacific markets mixed
Asia and Pacific markets were mixed in light trading at the end of the holiday week, reported CNN.
Tokyo's Nikkei average was up 0.9 percent in afternoon trading, while the KOSPI index in Seoul slumped 0.8 percent. Indices in Australia and Hong Kong were closed for Boxing Day.
Wall Street will reopen for a full day of business on Friday, following a holiday-shortened session on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones industrial average and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index were both up nearly 0.6 percent on Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite advanced almost 0.2 percent.
Trading has been light all week with many investors on vacation. In addition to light participation, many investors have closed their books for the year and are not planning to make any large moves until 2009.
Still, the market had a full roster of economic reports to digest, including one that showed a spike in jobless claims and another weak reading on personal spending.
"I think we'll continue to see unemployment rise and continue to see consumer spending drop," said Dean Barber, president of Barber Financial Group in Kansas City, Kansas. These declines, combined with a high level of consumer debt, could result in a "prolonged and painful scenario" for the economy, he added.
Barber said he expects the Dow to retest its November lows in the weeks ahead, and that it could bottom out around 5,000 sometime in 2010.
"The market has factored in some bad news, but there's a lot out there that people don't really understand yet," he said.
In other global trading, major indexes in Europe fell in Wednesday's holiday-shortened session. The DAX index in Frankfurt was closed.