Asian Markets Remain Mixed Monday Amid US Fiscal Cliff Concerns

 
on December 17 2012 1:01 AM

Asian markets were mixed Monday as investors remained cautious, as an agreement between the U.S. Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama in adopting measures to overcome the looming fiscal cliff remains elusive.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was up 1.52 percent, or 148.35 points, to 9885.41. Among major gainers were Sharp Corp (6.69 percent), Tokyu Land Corp (5.39 percent) and JTEKT Corp (3.86 percent).

The Chinese Shanghai Composite rose 0.49 percent, or 10.60 points, to 2161.43. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.34 percent, or 77.76 points, to 22528.22. Among major losers were Sands China Ltd (2.90 percent) and CNOOC Ltd (1.18 percent).

South Korea’s Kospi Composite Index fell 0.10 percent, or 2 points, to 1993.04.  Shares of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd rose 0.53 percent and shares of LG Electronics Inc were down 0.28 percent.

India's BSE Sensex marginally declined 0.12 percent or, 23.93 points, to 19293.32. Among the major losers were Bharti Airtel (2.50 percent), Dabur India (2.19 percent) and Titan India Ltd (1.82 percent).

Investors are currently focusing on the US fiscal cliff. “While the clock is ticking (to prevent the economy from falling over and returning to recession because of automatic tax increases and spending cuts to be implemented at the beginning of next year), it is not clear whether discussions between Republicans and Democrats are progressing. In any case, two things are becoming clear: Firstly, both household and corporate are turning more cautious. The confidence of the former is sliding down slightly, and the latter seem to have less appetite for investing more. So, uncertainties about fiscal policy are already negatively impacting growth prospects,” Credit Agricole said in a note.

On a positive note, markets players are encouraged to know that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won a landslide victory, regaining its ruling party status, in the general election in Japan over the weekend. The LDP and its coalition partner Komei Party now account for more than two-thirds of the total lower house seats.

Investors are hoping for the LDP led by Shinzo Abe to announce stimulus measures much-needed to revive the economic growth momentum of Japan.  Already, the Bank of Japan is facing severe political pressure following the weakening of economic conditions in Japan to announce aggressive monetary measures to revive the growth of the world’s third largest economy.

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