Asia stocks rally on U.S. fiscal cliff deal; Hang Seng jumps 2.5%

Shutterstock photo - Asian stock markets rose sharply on Wednesday, the first trading session of 2013, as appetite for riskier assets strengthened after U.S. lawmakers reached a deal to avert the fiscal cliff crisis.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rallied 2.5%, while Australia's ASX/200 Index settled 1.2% higher. Financial markets in Japan remained closed for a public holiday and will reopen on Friday.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday night in favor of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, approximately USD600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts which came into effect on January 1.

The final vote tally was 257 to 167. The passage came after the Senate approved the measure by a large majority of 89-8 early Tuesday morning.

The bill now heads to the White House, where President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.

Shares in Hong Kong climbed to the highest level since June 2011, as investors snapped up growth-sensitive assets following news of the U.S. fiscal cliff deal.

The rally also followed official data Tuesday showing that China's manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index held steady at 50.6 in December, above the 50.0-point mark that indicates an expansion in activity.

Shares in insurance giants China Life Insurance and Ping An surged 6.5% and 5% respectively.

Hong Kong's blue-chip exporters also contributed to gains, with clothing retailer Esprit Holdings up 3.5% and Li & Fung adding on 6.3%.

The China banking sector provided further support to the index, with China Construction Bank shares rising 2.9%, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China climbing 3.1% and Bank of China gaining 3.2%.

Index heavyweight HSBC tacked on 2%. Shares of Europe's largest lender command a 15% weighting on the Hong Kong benchmark, making it the single largest constituent on the index.

Elsewhere, in Australia, the benchmark ASX/200 Index rose to the highest level since June 2011.

Mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton rose 2.4% and 2% to hit their highest levels since February, while Newcrest Mining and Fortescue Metals Group surged 3.6% and 5.8% respectively.

In Europe, stocks were set to open 2013 in upbeat fashion, after U.S. lawmakers reached an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff.

The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 2.8% at the open, France's CAC 40 futures added 1.6%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a gain of 2.2% at the open.

Later Wednesday the U.K. was to release data on manufacturing activity, while in the U.S. the Institute of Supply Management was to produce a report on manufacturing growth. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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