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Asia Gains Momentum on US Fiscal Countdown

CNBC.com and Reuters
Friday, 30 Nov 2012 | 5:06 AM ET

Asian shares gained momentum on Friday despite top Republican lawmaker John Boehner saying there had been no substantive progress in the last two weeks in talks to reach a budget deal that would avoid the "fiscal cliff."

Boehner, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said he had no idea what compromises the White House is willing to make on spending cuts, following a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 Index, which measures markets across Asia, rose 0.3 percent.

Japan's Nikkei average hit a seven-month closing high as a weaker yen, driven by persistent expectations the Bank of Japan will adopt bolder policy action under a likely new government after a Dec. 16 election, lifted the shares of exporters.

The Nikkei rose 0.5 percent to 9,446.01, and was up 5.8 percent this month, its best monthly performance since February. The broader Topix added 0.3 percent to 781.46.

Exporters in demand included Canon, Nikon, semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron nd Nissan Motor, up between 0.9 and 4.5 percent

Hitachi climbed 4.2 percent and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries advanced 3 percent after they said they would combine their thermal power businesses to better compete against bigger overseas rivals Siemens and General Electric.

Adding to the upbeat sentiment on Friday, Japan's industrial output unexpectedly rose in October in a sign the world's third-largest economy may have seen the worst of the effects of weak global trade and a diplomatic row with China.

China shares snapped a four-day losing streak, with property and infrastructure-related sectors strong after local media reported Vice Premier Li Keqiang said urbanization will drive most of the country's development in the next decade.

The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings closed up 1.1 percent on the day and 5.1 percent for the month at 2,139.7. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.9 percent from its lowest closing levels in nearly four years, trimming losses in November to 4.3 percent.

In Greater China, Hong Kong shares neared 2012 highs, helping the benchmark index close out a third-straight monthly gain.

The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.5 percent on the day and up 1.8 percent on the month at 22,030.4, shy of 22,149.7, the intra-day high for the year. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 1.3 percent on Friday and 0.4 percent for the month of November.

Offshore Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong outperformed onshore peers for a sixth-straight month.

Chinese property, railway and other infrastructure-related counters were strong after comments from China's vice premier on the prominent role of urbanisation in the country's economic development in the next 10 years.

Bucking the trend, Hong Kong Exchange (HKEx) slipped 0.8 percent after it raised $1 billion to fund its takeover of the London Metal Exchange.

Seoul shares eased marginally from an around three-week high reached the previous session.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index(KOSPI) finished down 0.1 percent at 1,932.90 points on Friday. The KOSPI managed to post a monthly gain of 1.1 percent in November, as it has rebounded since mid-November.

Heavyweights were mixed, with Samsung Electronics down 0.6 percent and Hyundai Motor ower by 2.2 percent.

CJ Corp rallied, rising as much as 7.2 percent, after it reported record earnings, driven by its affiliates businesses.

Australian shares rose 0.7 percent on Friday buoyed by shares in mining and banks as firmer metals prices and a higher finish on Wall Street helped the market reach a fresh three-week high.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 33.1 points to 4,510.9 points.

Bellwether miner BHP Billiton added 0.7 percent, coming off its previous high of 1 percent. The mining giant said it was succession planning after reports the world's biggest miner was preparing for changes at the top. Rio Tinto jumped 2.7 percent.

Banks were also strong, with National Australia Bank leading gains, adding 1.4 percent.

Lynas slumped 5.9 percent after hitting a session high of 6 percent earlier in the ssion. The Australian rare earths producer said it started operation at its long-delayed Malaysia processing plant on Friday.

Grocery wholesaler Metcash fell 2.2 percent after posted a 13% fall in first-half net profit on-year as the company lost some market share and shut warehouses and stores.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index closed up 0.8 percent to 4,050.

New Zealand's Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, debuted its investment fund at nearly a 22 percent premium.

In India, the BSE Index losed up 0.7 percent and he NSE Index rose 0.9 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index rallied 0.9 percent while Malaysia's KL Composite rose 0.2 percent.