HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian stocks rose Friday as investors took in their stride indications that no major progress had been made to avert the U.S. fiscal cliff, with Chinese shares rebounding from near four-year lows to snap a four-day losing streak.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.39% rose 0.5%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.33% added 0.6%, China’s Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 -0.06% advanced 0.9%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.09% climbed 0.5% and Taiwan’s Taiex rallied 1%.
/zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed SHCOMP 3,039.67, +9.52, +0.31%
The performance added to the solid monthly gains for most regional markets: Japanese and Taiwanese stock benchmarks ended November with a 5.8% surge, while the Shanghai and Shenzhen indexes finished November with a loss of 4.3% and 10.9%, respectively.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -1.49% defied the broad regional advance to end 0.1% higher, but finished both the week and the month with a 1.1% gain.
Regional stocks managed to climb on Friday despite uncertainty over whether U.S. politicians will be able to prevent more than $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts that are set to kick in automatically in January. Read: U.S. stocks extend gains on ‘cliff’ hopes.
Dampening sentiment, Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday morning there has been “no substantive progress” in negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff, briefly rattling Wall Street. Read: Republicans say no to Obama’s opening ‘cliff’ bid.
IG Index strategist Stan Shamu said the back-and-forth on the fiscal cliff would likely fuel market volatility through the end of December.
“Many [are] now convinced that negotiations will mirror that of last August’s debt-ceiling disaster and go right down to the wire. As a result, a choppy last month of the year is probably the most likely scenario, disappointing those hoping for a Santa Claus rally,” Shamu said.
The term “Santa Claus rally” refers to a year-end gain for shares that tends to start in December.
Still, a slew of Japanese data out Friday helped to lift sentiment, with the country’s industrial production unexpectedly rising in October after a sharp decline in the previous month. Read full story on the Japanese economic data.
The Japanese government separately announced its approval for a second stimulus package in a little more than a month, comprising of 880.3 billion yen ($10.7 billion) in spending. Read: Japan government approves stimulus package.
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Exporters performed particularly well as the dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.4906% rose against the yen to ¥82.65 from ¥82.11 in early action, while the euro /zigman2/quotes/210561215/realtime/sampled EURJPY +0.0646% hit a seven-month high against the yen.
Among currency-sensitive firms, Nikon Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203281219/delayed JP:7731 -0.75% /zigman2/quotes/203151879/delayed NINOF -15.69% gained 4.5%, and Canon Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 -0.41% /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ -1.32% advanced 1.2%.
Elsewhere, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202419396/delayed JP:7011 +0.16% /zigman2/quotes/206985358/delayed MHVYF -2.70% climbed 3%, and Hitachi Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203839937/delayed JP:6501 -0.26% /zigman2/quotes/203416411/delayed HTHIF +2.28% advanced 4.2%, after the firms said they will merge their thermal-power businesses and related units in a joint venture by 2014.
Gains in Hong Kong were led by banks, with heavyweight stock HSBC Holdings PLC /zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed HK:5 -0.26% rising 1.4% and Bank of Communications Co. /zigman2/quotes/203442771/delayed HK:3328 -0.58% /zigman2/quotes/202128064/delayed BCMXY -9.89% climbing 2%.
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200234512/delayed HK:388 -1.40% /zigman2/quotes/201215503/delayed HKXCY -0.45% fell 0.8% after announcing a plan to raise 7.75 billion Hong Kong dollars ($1 billion) via a private placement to fund its acquisition of the London Metal Exchange. Read: Hong Kong Exchanges taps market to fund LME bid.
In other stock market related news, People’s Insurance Co. Group of China — commonly known as PICC — priced its initial public offering at HK$3.48 (45 U.S. cents), a level near the low end of its indicative price range of HK$3.42–HK$4.03. The firm makes its trading debut on Dec.7, and PICC’s listing is set to become the largest IPO — at a projected $3.1 billion — for a Chinese state-owned company since 2010.
Over on mainland Chinese bourses, construction-related shares advanced after Vice Premier Li Keqiang reportedly said urbanization remains a main focus area for the leadership in coming years.
Shares of property developer China Vanke Co. rose 3.8% in Shenzhen, while Anhui Conch Cement Co. /zigman2/quotes/204025278/delayed HK:914 +0.71% jumped 4.9% and Poly Real Estate Group Co. /zigman2/quotes/201864015/delayed CN:600048 -1.98% climbed 3.3% in Shanghai.
In Australia, shares of miners ranked among the gainers after metals prices rose in New York trade on Thursday. Read: Gold futures score first climb in four sessions.
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG -1.23% /zigman2/quotes/204116626/delayed FSUMF -0.14% rose 1.3% and Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.46% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +0.79% climbed 2.8% after announcing cost plans on Thursday.