Asian markets mostly up in quiet trade

Asian markets mostly up in quiet trade

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mostly up Friday following a rally in the previous session, while dealers await another meeting on Greece's bailout and the resumption of talks on the US fiscal cliff.

Trade was subdued with Japanese markets closed for a public holiday and the United States celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday.

Sydney ended flat, dipping 0.10 points to 4,413.0 while Seoul gained 0.62 per cent, or 11.83 points, to close at 1,911.33.

Hong Kong added 0.79 per cent, or 170.78 points, to end at 21,913.98 and Shanghai closed up 0.58 per cent, or 11.77 points, at 2,027.38.

One dealer said jitters would likely have set in over upcoming negotiations between Democrats and Republicans to hammer out a deal on the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts that comes into effect on January 1.

"I think next week the market will face the reality that there's still a lot of work to do on the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets in Australia.

Global markets have soared over the past week on hopes that a compromise will be found in Washington that will avert the fiscal cliff, which will likely send the economy into recession if it comes into effect.

The euro was holding onto recent gains against the dollar as dealers remain confident eurozone finance ministers will agree to release the next batch of bailout cash to Athens when they meet Monday, after a hold-up in talks this week.

Sentiment was also boosted by comments Thursday from French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici that a deal on Greek debt would be reached.

"We seem to be poised to fulfil the conditions for a lasting exit from the eurozone crisis," Moscovici told France's Senate after returning from the failed talks in Brussels.

He said that although politicians failed to reach a deal this week, "we will as of Monday".

The single currency bought $1.2905 in Asian trade, compared with $1.2875 in London on Thursday while it was also at 106.25 yen from 106.22 yen.

Investors brushed off a closely-watched survey by research firm Markit showing the region's manufacturing activity in November little changed from lows experienced in October.

Markit's eurozone Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for November stood at 45.8 points, from 45.7 in October, which was the lowest since June 2009.

"For the fourth quarter of 2012 so far, PMI data suggest the strongest contraction of output since the second quarter of 2009," Markit said in a report.

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