Asian markets up despite US fiscal woes
Market watch top headlines
HONG KONG, Dec 28 AFP
December 28 2012, 8:54PM
Asian shares have risen on hopes of a last-minute deal to avert the US fiscal cliff, despite warnings from a leading Democrat that an agreement is unlikely just days before a year-end deadline.
Expectations for more aggressive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan continued to weigh on the yen, which was sitting at more than two-year lows against the dollar.
In its last trading day of the year Tokyo's Nikkei on Friday climbed 0.70 per cent to highs not seen since before last year's March 11 quake-tsunami disaster. The index ended 72.20 points up at 10,395.18. It rose 22.9 per cent for the year.
Sydney gained 0.50 per cent, or 23.3 points, to close at 4,671.3 and Seoul closed up 0.49 per cent, or 9.70 points, to 1,997.05.
Hong Kong added 0.21 per cent, or 46.81 points, to end at 22,666.59, while Shanghai put on 1.24 per cent, or 27.35 points, to 2,233.25.
US politicians have until Tuesday to come up with a deficit-cutting budget that is less painful than the steep tax hikes and swingeing spending cuts that most economists say will tip the country into recession.
With time counting down, Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the lack of progress on a deal, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying: "I have to be very honest, I don't know time-wise how it can happen now."
President Barack Obama cut short his Christmas holiday to host top congressional leaders on Friday in a last-ditch bid to find an agreement.
Dealers seemed to take heart from reports that the House of Representatives would reconvene on Sunday, raising hopes of an 11th-hour compromise.
However, SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires: "The market has factored in the possibility that talks will spill over to 2013.
"It remains a focus of attention, but sooner or later it's going to be solved."
On Wall Street, the Dow fell 0.14 per cent, the S&P 500 slipped 0.12 per cent and the Nasdaq shed 0.14 per cent.
Despite the uncertainty in Washington the dollar climbed against the yen, buying Y86.40 in early Asian trade, up from Y86.09 in New York late on Thursday, hovering around its highest level since August 2010.
The euro was at Y114.39 and $US1.3248, against Y113.97 and $US1.3235.
Investors have been selling the yen on expectations Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, will carry out his promises of more aggressive monetary easing and big government spending to lift inflation and kickstart the economy.
There was little movement on news that factory output for November was down a bigger than forecast 1.7 per cent month on month and a warning from the economy ministry that "industrial production is on a downward trend".
Oil prices rose, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February adding 39 US cents to $US91.26 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for February gaining 41 US cents to $US111.21 in the afternoon.
Gold was at $US1,661.40 at 1900 AEDT, compared with $US1,655.26 late Thursday.
In other markets:
- Taipei rose 51.09 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 7,699.50.
TSMC was 1.46 per cent higher at $Tw97.0 while Hon Hai Precision edged down 0.11 per cent to $Tw88.9.
- Manila added 0.31 per cent, or 17.84 points, to close at 5,812.73.
BDO Unibank gained 0.07 per cent to 72.80 pesos while SM Investments rose 0.22 per cent to 882 pesos.
- Wellington ended 0.38 per cent, or 15.46 points, higher at 4,080.90.
By Danny McCord