Asia-Pacific stocks fell in light trading on the final day of the year, with the regional benchmark index heading for its first back-to-back annual decline since 2002, as energy shares followed crude oil lower.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index excluding Japan slipped 0.1 percent to 410.54 as of 8:10 a.m. in Hong Kong, with raw-material companies leading declines. The MSCI gauge that includes Japan headed for a 4.5 percent drop this year amid decelerating Chinese growth and a rout in commodities. That compares with a 0.2 percent advance for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and a 7.4 percent increase for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Energy and raw-material producers led declines on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index this year as sentiment has turned negative after a decade-long bull market that was driven by China’s hunger for crops, metals and fuel. Producers rushed to meet that demand, resulting in expanded supplies that are now causing gluts as the world’s second-largest economy grapples with the weakest growth in a generation.

China’s gross domestic product will slow from an estimated 6.9 percent growth rate this year to 6.5 percent next year, according to a Bloomberg survey. The nation’s manufacturing sector probably contracted for a fifth straight month in December, according to the median forecast of analysts in a separate Bloomberg survey. The official purchasing managers index is due to be released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Jan. 1.

Markets in Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines and Thailand are closed for holidays while those in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore have shortened trading.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed, with trading volumes 56 percent below the 30-day average for this time of the day. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading.

Chinese shares in Hong Kong extended the biggest sell-off in Asia this year on concern the nation’s deepening economic slowdown will sap corporate earnings. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index slipped 1.3 percent on Wednesday, poised for a 19 percent slump this year. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent, extending its 2015 advance to 10 percent.

The Hang Seng China gauge has decoupled from mainland equities this year for the first time in a decade as the government intervened to support shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen and foreign investors turned bearish on the nation’s earnings prospects.

E-mini futures on the S&P 500 Index added 0.1 percent on Thursday. The U.S. equity benchmark slipped 0.7 percent on Wednesday as energy companies dropped and a slide in Apple Inc. weighed on technology shares. Crude oil in New York fell 3.4 percent yesterday, poised for its biggest two-year drop on record.

Source : Bloomberg