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Asia stocks mixed on U.S. concerns; Nikkei up 0.2% after sales tax hike

Posted: 10/1/2013 2:46:00 AM
Referenced Stocks: - Asian stock markets were mixed on Tuesday, after U.S. lawmakers missed a deadline to avert a government shutdown, the first in 17 years.

During late Asian trade, Australia's ASX/200 Index ended down 0.18%, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed 0.2% higher, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index remained closed for a public holiday.

The U.S. government began a partial shutdown after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a new budget before Monday's midnight deadline. It is the first government shutdown in the U.S. since 1996.

Meanwhile, in China, a government report showed that the nation's manufacturing purchasing managers' index inched up to 51.1 in September from 51.0 in August, missing forecasts for 51.5.

Chinese markets will be closed until October 7 for the Golden Week holiday.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei swung between gains and losses after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced plans to raise the sales tax to 8% from 5%, starting in April. Abe also said he will unveil a stimulus package designed to ease the impact of the increased tax.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index edged lower after the Reserve Bank of Australia held its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 2.5% earlier in the session.

Following the decision, AUD/USD rose to hit a session high of 0.9400, the strongest since September 26.

The big four banks were mixed following the announcement, with National Australia Bank shares adding 0.25%, while Westpac Banking Group shed 0.6%. Commonwealth Banking Group inched up 0.2%.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a modestly higher open.

The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.1% at the open, France's CAC 40 futures inched up 0.1%, London's FTSE 100 futures indicated a rise of 0.1%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a gain of 0.2% at the open.

Investors were closely watching political developments in Italy, with Prime Minister Enrico Letta due before parliament for a vote of confidence on Wednesday after Silvio Berlusconi pulled his ministers out of the coalition government on Saturday. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
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