Asian markets mixed, US jobs data offset by profit-taking

Asian markets mixed, US jobs data offset by profit-taking

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed on Monday as last week's fiscal deal-fuelled rally led to profit-taking, while dealers took heart from healthy job creation figures out of the United States.

The yen rose slightly against the dollar and euro, although it remains under pressure on expectations the Japanese central bank will further loosen monetary policy.

Tokyo - which on Friday hit its highest level since before the quake-tsunami of March 2011 - slipped 0.20 per cent by the break, while Sydney shed 0.11 per cent and Seoul was off 0.60 per cent.

However, Hong Kong edged up 0.11 per cent and Shanghai added 0.18 per cent.

Traders chose to cash in after shares jumped last week in the wake of the deal in Washington to avert the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts that economists had warned would tip the United States into recession.

Providing some buying support was news out of Washington on Friday showing the world's biggest economy added 155,000 jobs in December. While the figures is not huge and was in line with expectations it does show there is some confidence despite recent uncertainty over the fiscal cliff wrangling.

In addition the latest ISM index on the service sector showed unexpected growth in December, the fastest in 10 months, led by new orders and employment.

Wall Street closed higher on the news. The Dow finished up 0.33 per cent and the Nasdaq was flat, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.49 per cent to its highest close since December 31, 2007.

On currency markets the dollar eased against the yen after hitting its strongest points against the Japanese unit in more than two years. The greenback stood at 88.06 yen in early Tokyo trade, compared with 88.15 yen in New York late Friday.

The euro was at 114.98 yen and $1.3055 from 115.19 yen and $1.3067.

Oil prices were mixed, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February shedding four cents to $93.05 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for February delivery gained 15 cents to $111.46.

Gold was at $1,661.40 at 0300 GMT compared with $1,628.82 late Friday.

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