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Asia Mixed on Profit-Taking; Japan Rallies

Asian stocks were mixed on Monday as investors indulged in profit-taking after last week's extensive rally but Japanese equities jumped to an eight-month high after the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan's electoral triumph propelled the yen to a 20-month low.

Shinzo Abe, leader of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, is expected to usher in a government committed to a tough stance in a territorial row with China and a potentially risky prescription for hyper-easy monetary policy and fiscal spending to beat deflation and tame a strong yen.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 index was lower by 0.3 percent.

Japan's Nikkei average climbed 1 percent to an 8-1/2-month closing high on Monday, as the yen weakened after the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which favors aggressive monetary easing, won Sunday's election by a landslide.

The Nikkei rose 91.32 points to 9,828.88, the highest closing level since April 3. The broader Topix index advanced 0.9 percent to 807.84.

Power utilities surged in reaction to the LDP win, noting the party opposes a nuclear-free policy. Tokyo Electric jumped 30 percent, and Kansai Electric Power surged 13 percent.

Asahi Glass was down 2.7 percent after the Nikkei reported the glassmaker is expected to log a more than 40 percent slip in group operating profit for the year ending Dec. 31.

Exporters gained after the yen hit a 20-month low. Sony added 2.4 percent to 928 yen, Sharp gained 4.1 percent and Honda Motor added 1.6 percent.

China shares closed at their highest in more than four months on Monday after the official Xinhua news agency reported that China will maintain steady economic polices in 2013, adding to a surge last week that put onshore markets on course for their first annual gain since 2009.

The CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings closed up 0.5 percent at 2,366.7. The Shanghai Composite Index also climbed 0.5 percent. This was their highest close since Aug. 10.

Premium liquor producers, hit in recent weeks by concerns over contamination, rebounded with Wuliangye up 4.4 percent and Kweichow Moutai up 2 percent.

Hong Kong shares slipped from the 16-month highs set at the end of last week, as investors took profits, notably in large cap stocks that had been the chief beneficiaries of large fund inflows in recent months.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.4 percent at 22,513.6, falling off its highest since Aug. 1, 2011, set last Friday. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong edged down 0.1 percent.

Chinese property shares, most of which have outperformed the broader Hong Kong market, dived after the same Xinhua report said Beijing would maintain controls on the sector. China Overseas Land slid 1.3 percent, cutting its 2012 gains to 80.7 percent.

Shares of AIA Group were suspended from trading after American International Group launched a $6.5 billion offering of its remaining stake in the Asian insurer.

Li Ning, China's best-known sportswear firm, lost 3.9 percent after warning on Monday it will post a substantial loss for 2012 as it plans to book a charge of up to $288 million to revamp its sales channels.

South Korean shares fell on Monday, with exporters such as tech and auto shares losing ground on expectations for a weak yen and uncertainties such as the upcoming presidential elections.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 0.6 percent to 1,983.2 points.

Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 0.8 percent, while Hyundai Motor slid 2 percent.

Australian shares slipped 0.2 percent in thin trade on Monday as investors began winding down ahead of the end of year holiday season, though the resource sector found support from firm iron ore prices, which had helped the market to a 17-month high last week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 lost 9.7 points to 4,573.4.

Shares in Fortescue Metals Group jumped 3.7 percent after the group said it is in talks to sell a minority stake in its multi-billion dollar port and rail assets as it looks to cut debt and build new mines in a world of weaker iron ore prices.

Uranium miner Paladin Energy jumped 8.4 percent to A$0.97, getting a boost after the pro-nuclear power Liberal Democratic Party won Japan's election in a landslide.

Australian surfwear company Billabong put its shares in a trading halt on Monday ahead of a possible takeover bid for the company, the latest development in a tumultuous year in which three previous takeover offers failed.

Publisher Fairfax Media shares were also on a trading halt after it sold off its 51 percent stake in New Zealand online business Trade Me for A$616 million ($649 million) to help cut debt.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index dipped 0.3 percent to 3,966.4.

Singapore's Straits Times Index closed down 0.3 percent, while Malaysia's KL Composite Index lost 0.2 percent.

In India, the BSE Index ended down 0.4 percent, while the 50-share NSE Index lost 0.4 percent.