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Asian shares fluctuate amid impasse in US budget talks

Asian shares fluctuate amid impasse in US budget talks

Shares in Asia oscillated between gains and losses on low trading volume as US budget negotiations appeared to stall ahead of the Christmas holiday.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index added 0.1% to 462 as of noon in Hong Kong. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.3% after a gauge of metals prices advanced on 21 December. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.1% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed. Both the markets closed at noon today ahead of a two-day Christmas holiday. In China, Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.53%.

South Korea’s Kospi Index and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index both gained 0.1%. Equity markets in Japan are closed today and Australia’s market will shut at 2:10 p.m. local time.

The White House on Friday tried to salvage the faltering talks but there was little headway as lawmakers and President Barack Obama abandoned Washington for Christmas.

Investors still expect both sides to reach a compromise before the year-end deadline but heightening tensions were likely to stifle trade already slowed by the holidays.

Gold producers led an advance in metal shares as the impasse in US budget negotiations boosted demand for the metal as an investment haven. Alacer Gold Corp. rose 4.7% and Integra Mining Ltd. climbed 2.6%.

China Construction Bank Corp., the nation’s second- largest lender, advanced 1.1%. Korea Gas Corp. slid 5.3% in Seoul after the world’s largest buyer of liquefied natural gas delayed the sale of asset-back securities.

In deal news, Billabong International Ltd. slid 0.9% as the Australian surf-wear company agreed to give a buyout group including Sycamore Partners access to its financial data after reviewing their A$527 million offer.

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