Asia stocks up amid optimism over US budget

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 19, 2012 03:00 hrs

Asian stock markets rose Monday, registering optimism after negotiations late last week between President Barack Obama and leaders of Congress raised hopes the U.S. would avoid its "fiscal cliff" before the end-of-the-year deadline.

Obama met with the top leaders of the House and Senate on Friday to discuss ways to avert a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 in the absence of intervening action. U.S. lawmakers have said a budget deal before Christmas is possible.

Meanwhile, the yen's continuing weakness helped boost Japan's Nikkei 225. The index in Tokyo jumped 1.5 percent to 9,155.87.

Asian benchmarks were also driven up by bargain-hunting after a week of losses. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.4 percent to 21,247.47 and South Korea's Kospi rose 1 percent to 1,878.48. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 4,345.60.

U.S. stocks closed higher for the first day in four Friday after Congressional leaders reported progress in talks with Obama. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.4 percent to 12,588.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.5 percent to 1,359.88. The Nasdaq composite index gained 0.6 percent to 2,853.13.

Benchmark oil for December delivery was up 60 cents to $87.52 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.05 to finish at $86.92 per barrel.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2758 from $1.2727 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 81.25 yen from 81.22 yen.


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