Tokyo up on 2013 debut, markets hit by Fed fears

Tokyo and Shanghai stocks advanced on their first trading day of 2013, but other Asian markets were hit by profit-taking after the US fiscal cliff deal and fears over the Fed's bond-buying scheme.

Investors took their cue from New York, where equities ended in the red after minutes from the December Federal Reserve policy committee meeting indicated the bank's huge monetary easing measures could be scaled back sooner than expected.

Sydney shed 0.36 percent, or 16.9 points, to 4,723.8 and Seoul was off 0.37 percent, or 7.47 points, at 2,011.94. Hong Kong shed 0.29 percent, or 67.51 points, to 23,331.09.

Tokyo, however, climbed 2.82, or 292.93 points to 10,688.11 -- having surged more than three percent at one point -- as the yen tumbled on relief over the fiscal cliff deal.

And Shanghai, which was also back for the first time this year, closed up 0.35 percent, adding 7.86 points to 2,276.99.

Asian shares broadly climbed on Wednesday and Thursday after US lawmakers agreed a last-minute deal to avert the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts that could have sent the economy into recession.

However, while the tax problem was addressed, another row is expected as a deal must be struck within two months to deal with billions of dollars of spending cuts as well as to raise the country's debt ceiling.

On Thursday those concerns were compounded by the Fed minutes from last month showing a growing bias towards policy tightening this year, with some members looking to end the bank's asset purchases during 2013 and others by the end of the year.

The Fed in September unveiled its third bond-buying scheme -- called quantitative easing (QE3) -- to boost growth, saying it would not stop until the economy was up on its feet. And in December it added to that scheme.

"December was when the Fed announced an aggressive expansion of quantitative easing," said Stephen Halmarick, head of investment markets research at First State Investments in Sydney.

"Now the minutes say a few Fed members thought they should wind that back toward the end of 2013," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Indications of an end to the programme sent the dollar higher.

The greenback rose to 88.15 yen in early European trade -- its highest since July 2010 -- from 87.19 yen in New York Thursday afternoon, while the euro bought $1.3022, compared with $1.3052.

The single currency was at 114.75 yen from 113.80 yen. The Japanese unit continues to come under selling pressure as dealers bet the country's central bank will unveil a fresh round of monetary easing as called for by new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before last month's general election.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.16 percent, the S&P 500 slipped 0.21 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.38 percent.

Traders will also have an eye on the release later Friday of US non-farm payrolls data for a better idea of the state of the world's number one economy.

Oil prices fell, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February dropping 82 cents to $92.10 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for February shedding 83 cents to $111.31.

Gold was at $1,628.82 at 1100 GMT compared with $1,682.75 late Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Singapore closed up 0.01 percent, or 0.42 points, to 3,225.22.

Singapore Telecom gained 0.30 percent to Sg$3.36.

-- Taipei fell 30.85 points, or 0.39 percent, to 7,805.99.

TSMC rose 0.5 percent to Tw$101.5 while Hon Hai Precision fell 1.23 percent to Tw$88.0.

-- Manila rose 0.63 percent, or 37.40 points, to 5,971.45.

Developer Megaworld surged 6.3 percent to 3.06 pesos, Philippine Long Distance Telephone was up 1.5 percent at 38 pesos and Ayala Corp. gained 1.9 percent to 544 pesos.

-- Wellington fell 0.18 percent, or 7.33 points, to 4,075.04.

-- Jakarta ended up 10.76 points, or 0.24 percent, at 4,410.02.

Food manufacturer Cahaya Kalbar jumped 20.51 percent to 1,880 rupiah, Indosat rose 4.58 percent to 6,850 rupiah, and Bank Permata climbed 1.50 percent to 1,350 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur ended flat at 1,692.68.

IOI Corp gained 1.4 percent to 5.17 ringgit, Astro added 1.4 percent to 2.98, while UMW Holdings lost 2.2 percent to 12.22.

-- Bangkok gained 0.59 percent or 8.25 points to 1,416.66.

Oil company PTT lost 0.59 percent to 335 baht, while Siam Cement added 1.35 percent to 450 baht.

-- Mumbai rose 0.10 percent or 19.30 points, to 19,784.08.

Oil explorer ONGC rose 1.79 percent to 284.75 rupees, while TCS rose 1.5 percent to 1,297.5.

--

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