Asian markets mixed after weak US data

Asian markets were mixed Tuesday following weak US manufacturing data and fears over US talks aimed at averting the fiscal cliff, while Hong Kong and Shanghai rebounded from the previous day's losses.

The euro touched a six-week high against the dollar at one point, helped by news Greece had begun a debt-buyback programme and eurozone finance ministers had nodded through a bailout for Spain's troubled banks.

Tokyo fell 0.27 percent, or 25.72 points, to 9,432.46, Sydney eased 0.62 percent, or 27.9 points, to 4503.6 and Seoul lost 0.25 percent, or 4.84 points, to close at 1,935.18.

Hong Kong was 0.15 percent higher, adding 32.12 points to end at 21,799.97 while Shanghai was up 0.78 percent, or 15.37 points, at 1,975.14.

Both markets rebounded after posting heavy losses the previous day.

US shares turned down on Monday after the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index on manufacturing activity for November showed contraction following two months of expansion.

The purchasing managers index (PMI) fell to 49.5, below the 50 breakeven level, from 51.7 in October.

Businesses surveyed by the ISM blamed the slow global economy and uncertainty over the fiscal cliff battle in Washington. It followed positive manufacturing numbers across Asia, while Europe also saw a marginal improvement.

The Dow slid 0.46 percent, the S&P 500 fell 0.47 percent and the Nasdaq shed 0.27 percent.

US politicians have until the end of the month to agree a deal on cutting the country's huge deficit and avoid the fiscal cliff of huge tax hikes and spending cuts widely expected to tip the economy into recession if they take effect.

However, there has been little progress, with Republicans and Democrats blaming each other for the stalemate.

On Monday the Republicans put forward a proposal to the White House that calls for $800 billion in increased tax revenue, half of what President Barack Obama has proposed, while it also includes huge cuts to Medicare and other programmes. The plan was immediately rejected.

In Europe, Greece began its programme to buy back privately held debt at a big discount, the underlying condition for it to receive its next tranche of bailout funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Eurozone finance ministers also gave the green light to a 39.5 billion euros recapitalisation of Spain's banks next week.

A preliminary plan for a bailout for Cyprus worth 17 billion euros was also drawn up.

The euro climbed at one point to $1.3081 -- its highest since October 22 -- before easing slightly to $1.3074, while it also bought 107.21 yen in early European trade, compared with $1.3051 and 107.36 yen in New York late Monday.

The dollar was slightly lower at 82.02 yen from 82.24 yen.

The Australian dollar rose to US$1.0454 from the $1.0421 seen just before the central bank cut interest rates by 25 basis points to 3.0 percent citing problems in the global economy, in particular Europe and the United States.

Oil prices eased, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January, down 43 cents to $88.66 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for January shedding 53 cents to $110.39.

Gold was at $1,705.44 at 1055 GMT compared with $1,717.75 late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Singapore's Straits Times Index closed down 0.12 percent, or 3.62 points to 3,062.12.

Olam International gained 1.59 percent to Sg$1.60 and Singapore Telecommunications added 0.61 percent to Sg$3.31.

-- Wellington fell 0.82 percent, or 33.40 points, to 4,015.69.

Fletcher Building was off 0.88 percent at NZ$7.91 and Telecom ended down 1.94 percent at NZ$2.28.

-- Manila closed 0.59 percent higher, adding 33.58 points to 5,706.28.

SM Prime Holdings gained 2.72 percent to 16.60 pesos while BDO Unibank rose 1.34 percent to 72 pesos. Empire East Landholdings was unchanged at 1.03 pesos.

-- Taipei was flat, edging up 1.07 points to 7,600.98.

Smartphone maker HTC rose 4.53 percent to Tw$278.5 while chip giant TSMC fell 1.34 percent to Tw$96.6.

-- Kuala Lumpur shares edged up 0.26 points or 0.02 percent to close at 1607.61.

British American Tobacco gained 2 percent to 56.62 ringgit while Petronas Chemicals Group rose 1.2 percent to 5.73. UEM Land Holdings lost 2.4 percent to close at 2.08 ringgit.

-- Jakarta ended down 32.79 points, or 0.76 percent, to 4,269.65.

Lender BCA fell 7.9 percent to 8,750 rupiah, car maker Astra International slipped 4.17 percent to 6,900 rupiah, while cigarette maker Gudang Garam climbed 0.19 percent to 53,850 rupiah.

-- Mumbai's Sensex index rose 0.22 percent or 42.80 points to 19,348.12 points.

Mahindra & Mahindra was down 1.75 percent at 938.95 rupees and Tata Power was up 4.0 percent at 111.75 rupees.

-- Bangkok edged down 2.86 points or 0.21 percent to close at 1,330.06.

Coal producer Banpu lost 1.28 percent to 387.00 baht while energy giant PTT Plc gained 0.62 percent to 327.00 baht.


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