Trading Room home page

Asian markets retreat on fiscal cliff news

Market watch top headlines

Australian reports

World reports

Stocks to watch

ARI, OGC, AQG, RCT, SYD,

HONG KONG, Dec 21 AFP

December 21 2012, 10:07PM

Asian markets mostly fell on Friday after Republicans scrapped a vote on putting in place a back-up plan if talks on averting the US fiscal cliff end in failure.

The news out of Washington late on Thursday cancelled out a rally on Wall Street and upbeat data on the US economy, while it also hit currency traders, who have sent the safe-haven yen higher despite more Bank of Japan monetary easing.

Tokyo fell 0.99 per cent, or 99.27 points to 9,940.06, Seoul shed 0.95 per cent, or 19.08 points, to 1,980.42 and Sydney was 0.23 per cent lower, losing 10.5 points to end at 4,623.6.

Hong Kong slid 0.68 per cent, fell 153.49 points to close at 22,506.29, while Shanghai lost 0.69 per cent, or 15.04 points, to end at 2,153.31.

With just under two weeks to go before huge tax hikes and spending cuts are due to kick in - and likely tip the economy into recession - US politicians are still unable to reach a compromise that will avert the fiscal cliff.

Late Thursday in Washington Republican House Speaker John Boehner scrapped a vote on a bill that would have extended tax cuts for all Americans earning less than $1 million even if a wider deal could not be struck.

The move, which he described as his "Plan B", was dropped because he did not have enough support. Boehner said his party would recess until after Christmas.

The measure had been blasted by President Barack Obama's Democrats as a diversionary tactic that would never have passed in the Senate, where they hold a majority.

Now both parties must come up with a budget that will cut the country's deficit with less painful measures before the start of January, when they take effect.

Wall Street ended in positive territory on Thursday, however, lifted by fresh data further indicating the US economy is getting back on its feet.

The Commerce Department said the economy grew 3.1 per cent in the third quarter, up from the estimates of 2.7 per cent and 2.0 per cent previously stated.

The figure reflects upward revisions to consumer spending, exports and government outlays, and a downward revision to imports.

Also on Thursday the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales rose 5.9 per cent month-on-month in November to their highest level in three years.

The Dow rose 0.45 per cent,the S&P 500 gained 0.55 per cent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.20 per cent.

Thursday's delay in Washington sent the yen higher in Asian trade. The dollar bought 84.05 yen against 84.38 yen in New York late Thursday. The euro was at $1.3204 and 111.00 yen compared with $1.3241 and 111.72 yen.

However, the Japanese unit is still being pressured after the country's central bank announced fresh monetary easing Thursday, while dealers expect further measures in the new year when the new government is in control.

Oil prices fell, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February down $1.00 to $89.13 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for February falling 53 cents to $109.67.

Gold was at $1,648.01 at 1045 GMT compared with $1,668.30 late Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 0.99 per cent, or 75.53 points, to 7,519.93.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 1.25 per cent lower at Tw$94.8 while leading smartphone maker HTC rose 1.63 per cent to Tw$280.0.

-- Manila closed 0.45 per cent higher, adding 26.20 points to 5,823.94.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust rose 2.06 per cent to 101.70 pesos and Philippine Long Distance Telephone gained 1.18 per cent to 2,570 pesos.

-- Wellington fell 0.51 per cent, or 20.71 points, to 4,054.74.

Air New Zealand was down 0.78 per cent at NZ$1.28, Fletcher Building shed 2.37 per cent to NZ$8.25 and Telecom eased 2.59 per cent to NZ$2.26.

-- Singapore closed up 0.54 per cent, or 16.95 points, at 3,175.52.

Singapore Telecom rose 0.60 per cent to Sg$3.37 and DBS Group gained 0.54 per cent to Sg$14.99.

-- Bangkok shed 0.07 per cent or 1.00 points to close at 1,377.40.

Coal producer Banpu fell 1.42 per cent or 6.00 baht to 418.00 baht while PTT Plc was unchanged at 333.00 baht.

-- Jakarta ended down 21.04 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 4,254.82.

Carmaker Astra International fell 2.60 per cent to 7,500 rupiah, cigarette maker Gudang Garam lost 2.73 per cent to 57,000 rupiah, while palm oil producer Astra Agro Lestari decreased 1.62 per cent to 18,250 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur shares gained 4.96 points, or 0.30 per cent, to close at 1,670.60.

British American Tobacco added 1.7 per cent to 60.50 ringgit, DiGi.com rose 1.5 per cent to 5.36 and Axiata climbed 1.2 per cent to 6.68.

-- Mumbai fell 1.09 per cent or 211.92 points at 19,242.0 points.

Jet Airways slid 7.03 per cent to 566.5 rupees while Jindal Steel fell 3.52 per cent to 454.25 rupees.