Asian markets mixed, Tokyo up on election result

Asian markets mixed, Tokyo up on election result

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed Monday, with Japanese shares soaring and the yen tumbling after a landslide election win for the conservative opposition.

The Japanese currency 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 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 84.30 yen in early Tokyo trade, its highest since April last year, before easing back to 83.95 yen in the afternoon, still well up from 83.52 yen in New York on Friday.

The euro also hit 111.10 yen, its highest since April this year, but slipped back to 110.45, compared with 109.94 yen in New York Friday.

The single currency also bought US$1.3157, from US$1.3161.

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 Friday to include tax rises for millionaires that would bring US$460 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 cents to $87.00 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for February delivery advancing 26 cents to US$108.44.

Gold was at US$1,688.67 at 0810 GMT compared with US$1,696.80 late 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 Tw$97.0 while Hon Hai Precision Industry dived 4.7 per cent at Tw$87.2.

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 NZ$8.14, Contact Energy was off 0.60 per cent at NZ$5.01 and Telecom ended up 0.19 per cent at NZ$2.16.

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