Asian stocks mostly lower on stalled cliff talks

Shutterstock photo - Amid thin holiday turnover, most Asian exchanges that are open today are trading lower on news that U.S. lawmakers have made essentially no progress in avoiding the fiscal cliff.

In Asian trading Monday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.04%, but the Shanghai Composite climbed 0.12%. HSBC's flash reading of China's Purchasing Managers Index for December checked in at 51.5. That tops the initial reading of 50.9 reported on December 14 and the November reading of 50.5. Readings above 50 indicate expansion. The December flash PMI level is the highest since May 2011.

Due to a holiday, exchanges in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam are closed today.

Today's trading will also be holiday-shortened for stocks in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Any good cheer surrounding the holidays has been dampened by the lack of progress on the fiscal cliff. With time to find a resolution running short, lawmakers left their work unfinished once again Sunday evening, but promised to reconvene again later today.

During a press interview Sunday, President Obama said financial markets would be adversely impacted if Congress fails to craft a fiscal cliff resolution prior to the Tuesday deadline. Obama said his top priority to ensure that taxes on middle-class Americans do not go up.

While Obama remains optimistic that a small deal will reach his desk before the January 1 deadline, a stop-gap measure may not be enough to assuage the bulls and generate much in the way of risk appetite because the U.S. will have to deal with the cliff again in the near-term if more comprehensive legislation is not produced now. Additionally, the debt ceiling must be addressed by February.

Elsewhere, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5% following the release of a concerning economic data point. In a report, Reserve Bank of Australia said that Australian Private Sector Credit remained unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 0.0%, from 0.1% in the preceding month. Analysts had expected Australian Private Sector Credit to rise 0.3% last month.

New Zealand's NZSE 50 fell 0.35% while Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 0.71%. - 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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