Asian stocks rise on momentum from US budget deal

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Associated Press

Posted on January 2, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 3 at 1:06 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets rose again Thursday on a second day of momentum from Washington's agreement preventing the U.S. from going off the so-called fiscal cliff.

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

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

Wall Street stocks soared 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 programs, 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 Ltd. in Singapore.

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

U.S. 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 U.S. 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 Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to 87.21 yen from 87.14 yen.

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Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson

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