Asian markets mixed after fiscal cliff rally

Asian markets were mixed Thursday following the previous day's huge gains after US lawmakers agreed a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, while concerns over upcoming fights in Washington hurt sentiment.

The yen clawed back some of its losses against the euro and dollar but remains under pressure on expectations of further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.

Sydney rose 0.74 percent, or 34.8 points, to 4,740.7 -- the highest since May 2011 -- and Hong Kong added 0.37 percent, or 86.62 points, to 23,398.60, but Seoul slipped 0.58 percent, or 11.69 points, to 2,019.41.

Shanghai and Tokyo were closed for public holidays.

Relief that Washington had reached a last-minute deal to avoid huge tax hikes and spending cuts sent global markets soaring on Wednesday, with Hong Kong hitting a 19-month high and Wall Street also starting the year with a bang.

The Dow jumped 2.35 percent, the S&P 500 added 2.54 percent and the Nasdaq surged 3.07 percent.

Economists had warned that going over the cliff would have likely seen the economy tip into recession, with knock-on effects for the rest of the world.

However, while Democrats and Republicans passed a compromise, they only delayed the imposition of spending cuts for two months, meaning another debilitating stand-off is almost certain at the end of February.

There are also worries about the lifting of the debt ceiling, also at the end of February, with analysts saying the country could see a repeat of the row in summer 2011 that saw Washington's credit rating downgraded for the first time.

"It's good that they struck a deal, but there's a harder fight in the next six to eight weeks, and it's tough to imagine the market doesn't stay choppy until we get past the debt-ceiling debate," Richard England, portfolio manager for Atlanta Capital Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Investors will now be looking ahead to the release on Friday of US jobs data for a better idea of the state of the world's number one economy.

On currency markets the euro bought $1.3142 from $1.3184 in New York late on Wednesday. The euro was at 114.55 yen from 115.13.

The dollar fell to 87.15 yen from 87.32 yen.

The yen picked up slightly after suffering heavy selling on Wednesday, with dealers taking the opportunity to take profits on Thursday. But it is likely to face further pressure as expectations rise for more central bank easing.

Oil prices eased, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February down 48 cents to $92.64 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for February shedding 59 cents to $111.88.

Gold was at $1,683.40 at 0810 GMT compared with $1,683.30 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 0.74 percent, or 57.62 points, to 7,836.84.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. gained 1.41 percent to Tw$101.0 while leading smartphone maker HTC was down 2.97 percent at Tw$294.0.

-- Manila climbed 1.25 percent, or 73.06 points, to 5,934.05.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. gained 2.03 percent to 2,612 pesos while Ayala Corp. rose 1.52 percent to 534 pesos.

-- Wellington rose 0.39 percent, or 15.85 points, to 4,082.37.

Fletcher Building added 0.8 percent to NZ$8.46 while Contact Energy gained 1.5 percent to NZ$5.28.

--

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