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Asian stocks rise on US budget deal

Jan 03 2013 07:40 AFP

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Bangkok - Asian stock markets rose again Thursday on a second day of momentum from Washington's agreement preventing the US from going off the fiscal cliff.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose marginally to 23 316.94. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6% to 4 733. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and New Zealand also rose. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5% to 2 020.17.

Markets in Japan and mainland China were closed for extended holidays.

Wall Street stocks soared on Wednesday, the first trading day of the year, amid investor relief that Republicans and Democrats hammered out a last-minute budget deal, though the compromise left many issues unresolved.

The deal doesn't include any significant deficit-cutting agreement, meaning the country still doesn't have a long-term plan or even an agreement in principle on how to curb spending. Big cuts to defense and domestic programmes, which would have hit with the new year, weren't worked out but instead were delayed for two months.

"Continued advances will depend on how spending deals are or are not negotiated over the next two months and whether any down payment on the national debt is made," said analysts at DBS Bank in Singapore.

Mixed data on manufacturing and construction spending in the US didn't dent investor enthusiasm. The Dow Jones industrial average finished 2.4% higher at 13 412.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.5% to 1 462.42. The Nasdaq composite index shot up 3.1% to 3 112.26.

US manufacturing grew slightly last month and factory hiring increased. The modest gain suggests the economy entered the new year with some momentum.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity rose in December to 50.7, up from a reading of 49.5 in November. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while a reading below signals contraction.

Spending on US construction projects fell in November from October because a steep drop in volatile federal projects offset another gain in home building.

Benchmark oil for February delivery fell 52 cents to $92.60 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.30 to finish at $93.12 per barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3140 from $1.3178 in late trading on Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to ¥87.21 from ¥87.14.

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