Asian markets mostly up in quiet trade

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.

Sydney ended flat, dipping 0.10 points to 4,413.0 while Seoul gained 0.62 percent, or 11.83 points, to close at 1,911.33.

Hong Kong added 0.79 percent, or 170.78 points, to end at 21,913.98 and Shanghai closed up 0.58 percent, or 11.77 points, at 2,027.38.

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.

Sentiment was also boosted by comments Thursday from French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici that a deal on Greek debt would be reached.

"We seem to be poised to fulfill the conditions for a lasting exit from the eurozone crisis," Moscovici told France's Senate after returning from the failed talks in Brussels.

He said that although politicians failed to reach a deal this week, "we will as of Monday".

The single currency bought $1.2905 in Asian trade, compared with $1.2875 in London on Thursday while it was also at 106.25 yen from 106.22 yen.

Investors brushed off a closely-watched survey by research firm Markit showing the region's manufacturing activity in November little changed from lows experienced in October.

Markit's eurozone Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for November stood at 45.8 points, from 45.7 in October, which was the lowest since June 2009.

"For the fourth quarter of 2012 so far, PMI data suggest the strongest contraction of output since the second quarter of 2009," Markit said in a report.

The dollar was at 82.32 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 27 cents to $87.20 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for January delivery fell 25 cents to $110.30.

Gold was at $1,734.47 at 1030 GMT compared with $1,729.27 late Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 220.25 points, or 3.1 percent, to 7,326.01.

TSMC rose 4.6 percent to Tw$95.5 while HTC was 1.48 percent higher at Tw$240.0.

-- Manila closed 0.71 percent higher, adding 38.97 points to 5,552.34.

Philippine National Bank jumped 3.37 percent to 84.30 pesos while Bank of the Philippine Islands rose 3.11 percent to 92.80 pesos.

On Wednesday, trading in both banks were suspended for a day when it was announced that they were in talks for a merger. No developments have yet been announced.

-- Wellington increased 11.12 points, or 0.28 percent, to 4,008.33.

Fletcher Building was up 1.9 percent to NZ$7.99, Chorus rose 1.5 percent to NZ$3.30 and The Warehouse gained 1.3 percent to NZ$3.19.

-- Singapore closed up 0.09 percent, or 2.65 points, at 2,989.28.

DBS Bank fell 0.07 percent to Sg$13.88 and Singapore Telecom was unchanged at Sg$3.14.

-- Kuala Lumpur fell 4.23 points, or 0.26 percent, to end at 1,614.32.

Axiata Group lost 0.7 percent to 5.83 ringgit, while Telekom Malaysia shed 0.6 percent to 5.37.

-- Bangkok gained 0.17 percent, or 2.19 points, to 1,281.70.

Coal producer Banpu edged up 2.19 percent to 374.00 baht, while Siam Cement dropped 1.02 percent to 390.00 baht.

-- Jakarta ended up 12.88 points, or 0.3 percent, at 4,348.81.

Food manufacturer Indofood Sukses Makmur rose 1.74 percent to 5,850 rupiah while miner Aneka Tambang gained 1.63 percent to 1,250 rupiah.

-- Mumbai was flat, dropping 10.77 points to 18,506.57.

Infosys was down 0.37 percent at 2,376.00 rupees while Mahindra & Mahindra was down 0.02 percent at 954.15 rupees.

--

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