Asian markets down on US fears, Japan data

Asian markets were mixed on Monday as news that Japan's economy shrank in the July-September quarter and fears over the US "fiscal cliff" offset another round of healthy Chinese data.

The euro lost the gains it made earlier in the day after Greek lawmakers said they had approved a 2013 budget that would secure the latest batch of bailout cash that will help it avoid bankruptcy.

Tokyo fell 0.93 percent, or 81.16 points, to 8,676.44, Sydney lost 0.31 percent, or 14.0 points, to end at 4,448.0 and Seoul shed 0.19 percent, or 3.54 points, to 1,900.87.

Hong Kong added 0.210 percent, or 45.92 points, to 21,430.30 and Shanghai was 0.49 percent, or 10.21 points, higher at 2,079.27.

Recent indications that the Chinese economy is emerging from a drawn-out slumber were reinforced Saturday when figures showed exports rose 11.6 percent year-on-year in October, following a near 10 percent jump in September.

The numbers, which were released as the Communist Party holds its 18th Congress and prepares for a once-a-decade leadership transition, came a day after officials said industrial output surged last month, while government asset investment also saw a healthy rise.

Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the growth slowdown, which has impacted the global economy, had been "effectively curbed".

However, while the world's number two economy continues to show signs of a resurgence, Japan on Monday said gross domestic product had shrunk 0.9 percent in the July-September period from the previous three months.

It comes after Japan posted its worst September trade figures for 30 years as exports slumped, with analysts blaming the continued strength of the yen, a territorial spat with Beijing and the debilitating debt crisis in Europe.

In forex trade the euro bought $1.2706, compared with $1.2709 yen in New York late Friday. It also edged up to 101.01 yen from 100.99 yen.

The dollar was trading at 79.46 yen against 79.47 yen.

The euro was given a little support from the news out of Athens that the parliament had passed a 2013 budget full of swingeing cuts deemed necessary to meet creditors' demands for its next round of rescue money.

The vote passed with a comfortable majority of 167 deputies in favour from the 300-seat chamber but markets are still edgy until a decision is finally made by Greece's lenders on whether to release the much-needed money.

Eyes are also on the United States, where rival politicians must reach a deal to avoid a fiscal cliff of deep spending cuts and huge tax hikes which would come into force on January 1 and which observers say would tip the country back into recession.

The package was put together after a protracted but possibly reckless compromise was reached last year -- with the expectation that a less painful plan could be agreed -- to raise the country's borrowing cap.

Oil prices were mixed, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, falling 33 cents to $85.74 a barrel in the afternoon, while Brent North Sea crude for December delivery shed 50 cents to $108.90.

Gold was at $1,736.60 by 1100 GMT compared with $1,730.30 late Friday.

In other markets:

-- Singapore closed flat, dipping 1.99 points to 3,007.57.

United Overseas Bank fell 0.11 percent to Sg$18.28 while Keppel Corp gained 0.49 percent to Sg$10.20.

-- Taipei fell 0.35 percent, or 25.47 points, to 7,267.75.

Smartphone maker HTC ended up by its seven percent daily limit at Tw$241.5 after reaching a global patent settlement with US giant Apple. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.55 percent higher at Tw$91.3.

-- Manila closed flat, edging up 1.91 points to 5,470.70.

Ayala Corp. gained 0.45 percent to 450 pesos while Metro Pacific Investment rose 3.04 percent to 4.40 pesos.

-- Wellington added 0.66 percent, or 26.08 points, to 3,983.99.

Fletcher Building rose 3.3 percent to NZ$7.48 and Telecom was 1.04 percent higher at NZ$2.44.

-- Jakarta ended down 0.35 percent, or 15.049 points, at 4,318.591.

Carmaker Astra International slipped 1.92 percent to 7,650 rupiah, food firm Indofood Sukses Makmur was down 1.69 percent at 5,800 rupiah, and Bank Negara Indonesia dropped 1.99 percent to 3,700 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur dipped 3.49 points, or 0.21 percent to close at 1,637.59.

PPB Group Bhd lost 1.3 percent to 12.58 ringgit, while Felda Global Ventures Holdings was down 0.2 percent to 4.59. Genting gained 1.2 percent to end at 4.90 ringgit.

-- Mumbai edged down 0.07 percent or 13.34 points at 18,670.34.

Tata Steel ended down 1.72 percent to 383.85 rupees while Hero Motocorp slid 1.67 percent to 1,875.75.

-- Bangkok rose 0.28 percent or 3.67 points to 1,294.50.

Coal producer Banpu fell 0.78 percent to 381.00 baht, while oil company PTT gained 0.32 percent to 317.00 baht.

--

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