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Markets

Asian stocks mostly lower as cliff talks turn ugly; Nikkei down 0.5%

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Investing.com - Most Asian exchanges traded to the downside Thursday as U.S. fiscal cliff negotiations took a surprising turn for the worse, forcing traders to safer assets.

In Asian trading Thursday, Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.5% ahead of a possible monetary easing announcement from the Bank of Japan. If BoJ does announce additional easing, it would be third time in four months. Some traders are speculating the central bank will announce it is expanding its asset-buying regime by 10 trillion yen.

The central bank's meeting, which concludes today, is its first since Shinzo Abe was elected to another stint as Japan's prime minister on Sunday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.33% while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.52%. South Korea's Kospi added 0.26% a day after voters there elected the first female president in their country's history.

Cental bank meetings and politics aside, on Thursday, Asian stocks appeared to be taking their cues from U.S. equities which skidded into Wednesday's close as traders learned the fiscal cliff talks were stalling. While partisan rancor is often high in Washington, D.C., the newly negative tenor to the cliff talks spooked U.S. traders Wednesday.

President Obama accused his Republican opponents of making the cliff debate personal. Republicans fired back, saying the President's opposition to House Speaker John Boehner's so-called Plan B is "bizarre and irrational."

Speaker Boehner's Plan B consists of raising income taxes only those American households earning more than $1 million per year while keeping current tax levels in place for all other taxpayers.

Despite the posturing, President Obama said he remains optimistic that the two sides can come together in the essence of compromise and he is hopeful a deal can be finalized before Christmas.

Elsewhere, New Zealand's NZSE 50 surged 1.28% despite a tepid third-quarter GDP report there. On Thursday, Statistics New Zealand said that New Zealand's GDP rose 0.2%, below the 0.4% analysts expected. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 0.5%.

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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.

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