Asian markets boosted by China manufacturing data

Asian markets climbed on Monday after data showed Chinese manufacturing activity had picked up pace in November, while increased global confidence provided support for the euro.

Tokyo rose 0.66 percent by the break, Hong Kong was 0.10 percent higher, Sydney added 0.59 percent and Seoul climbed 0.23 percent while Shanghai was flat.

Beijing said Saturday that factory activity grew for the second month in a row in November, the latest figures showing the world's number two economy is emerging from its recent slowdown.

The country's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) reached 50.6, up from 50.2 in October and 49.8 in September and the highest since hitting 53.3 in April. Anything above 50 indicates expansion.

In a separate survey, HSBC said its PMI hit a 13-month high of 50.5 in November from 49.5 in October.

Chinese manufacturing has been hit by weaker demand in Europe and the United States, with economic growth hitting a more than three-year low of 7.4 percent in the July-September quarter.

A more upbeat outlook for China filtered through to currency markets, where the euro continued its recent rise.

The single currency gained to $1.3040 and 107.42 yen in early trade, from $1.2982 and 107.07 yen in New York late Friday.

The dollar eased to 82.37 yen from 82.48 yen in US trade.

The yen has weakened over the past few weeks as investors expect a win in December 16 polls for Shinzo Abe, the opposition leader who has pledged to carry out more aggressive monetary easing measures to kickstart Japan's limp economy.

However, there are worries over the lack of progress US lawmakers are making in agreeing a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts due to come into effect on January 1 and which could tip the economy into recession.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner told the Fox News Sunday TV show that talks were going "nowhere".

He said he was "flabbergasted" when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's pointman for the talks, presented the White House's proposal, which included huge tax increases for the rich.

"I looked (at) him and said, 'You can't be serious,'" Boehner recounted, saying three of the seven weeks available had "been wasted with this nonsense".

"Right now, I would say -- we're nowhere, period. We're nowhere" towards reaching a compromise.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January, was unchanged at $88.91 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for January delivery shed nine cents to $111.14.

Gold was at $1,718.90 at 0300 GMT compared with $1,728.37 late Friday.

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