Asian markets closed mixed, Tokyo up
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HONG KONG, Dec 17 AFP
December 17 2012, 7:42PM
Asian markets were mixed, with Japanese shares soaring and the yen tumbling after a landslide election win for the conservative opposition.
The Japanese currency on Monday hit a year-and-a-half low against the dollar and multi-month lows versus the euro, a boon for exporters, as investors bet on more central bank easing by the country's incoming government.
Tokyo climbed 0.94 per cent or 91.32 points to 9,828.88, Sydney closed down 9.7 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 4,573.4 and Seoul shed 0.60 per cent or 11.97 points to 1,983.07.
Hong Kong shed 0.41 per cent, or 92.37 points, to 22,513.61 but Shanghai ended up 0.45 per cent, or 9.71 points, at 2,160.34 on hopes for pro-growth domestic policies from Beijing to boost the economy after a key meeting at the weekend.
China "will continue to implement the proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy in 2013" and make increasing domestic demand a top priority, state media said on Sunday after a key conference that sets the nation's economic goals.
In Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was expected to oust the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and its leader Shinzo Abe has vowed to press for a more aggressive economic policy to kickstart the economy.
"The election results were very much in line with market expectations. A relief rally is in order, helped by the stronger dollar," SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires.
"Next, investors will be eager to see the kinds of concrete policy measures that the new government proposes."
Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, soared almost 33 per cent, leading a rally in energy firms on expectations the new government will likely shelve any short-term plans to ditch atomic power.
The DPJ vowed this year to ditch nuclear power by 2040, bowing to public pressure as thousands gathered to protest outside Noda's official residence.
But it quickly backpedalled on that pledge with a more vague promise to work towards a nuclear-free country.
The business friendly Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe derided the zero-nuclear goal as unrealistic and "irresponsible" - and hinted at keeping atomic power.
In currency markets, the dollar soared to Y84.30 in early Tokyo trade, its highest since April last year, before easing back to Y83.95 in the afternoon, still well up from Y83.52 in New York on Friday.
The euro also hit Y111.10, its highest since April this year, but slipped back to Y110.45, compared with Y109.94 in New York on Friday.
The single currency also bought $US1.3157, from $US1.3161.
Traders are keeping an eye on Washington, where lawmakers continue to haggle over an agreement to avoid the huge tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect next month, which are expected to tip the country into recession.
However, The Washington Post said that Republican House Speaker John Boehner had offered on Friday to include tax rises for millionaires that would bring $US460 billion ($A438.12 billion) in revenue over the next decade.
While the figure is about half of what President Barack Obama wants, it represents an important concession in the bitter face-off just two weeks before the deadline.
On Wall Street Friday, before the Boehner offer, the Dow lost 0.27 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 0.41 per cent and the Nasdaq shed 0.70 per cent.
Oil prices rose, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January up 28 US cents to $US87.00 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for February delivery advancing 26 US cents to $US108.44.
Gold was at $US1,688.67 at 1910 AEDT, compared with $US1,696.80 late on Friday.
In other markets:
- Taipei fell 0.88 per cent, or 67.49 points, to 7,631.28.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co lost 1.42 per cent to $Tw97.0 while Hon Hai Precision Industry dived 4.7 per cent at $Tw87.2.
- Manila fell 1.46 per cent, or 83.26 points, to 5,623.85.
- Wellington fell 0.32 per cent, or 12.69 points, to 3,966.49.
Fletcher Building was down 1.45 per cent at $NZ8.14, Contact Energy was off 0.60 per cent at $NZ5.01 and Telecom ended up 0.19 per cent at $NZ2.16.