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.

Hong Kong added 0.21 per cent, Sydney was flat, Shanghai added 0.60 per cent and Seoul was 0.30 per cent higher.

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.

The single currency bought US$1.2881 (S$1.60) in early Tokyo trade, compared with US$1.2875 in London on Thursday while it was also at 106.06 yen (S$1.60) from 106.22 yen.

The dollar fetched 82.35 yen, from 82.42 yen.

Trading on foreign exchange markets was quiet owing to Japan's public holiday, but the yen was still under pressure on expectations the country's central bank will unveil a new round of monetary easing next month.

Investors began selling the unit last week after the man likely to become prime minister after a December 16 general election said he would push for unlimited loosening monetary policy by the bank.

Regional traders were also drawing support from Thursday's release of preliminary data by HSBC showing Chinese manufacturing activity grew for the first time in 13 months in November.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January shed 59 cents to US$86.79 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for January delivery fell 19 cents to US$110.36.

Gold was at US$1,729.60 at 0210 GMT compared with US$1,729.27 late Thursday.

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