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Most Asian shares down on U.S. budget talk stalemate

Most Asian shares down on U.S. budget talk stalemate

Asian markets were mostly down on Monday as deadline nears for the U.S. Congress to reach a budget deal before the “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and spending cuts takes effect.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index was little changed at 466 as of 11:36 a.m. in Hong Kong. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.5% and New Zealand’s Exchange 50 Gross Index retreated 0.4%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained less than 0.1% and China’s Shanghai Composite gained 1.1%.Markets in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam are closed today for a holiday. Trading in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore will end early today ahead of the New Year holiday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average registered the biggest annual increased since 2005, surging 23%, and the benchmark MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 14% in 2012 as central banks from the U.S., Europe, Japan and China employed several measures to spur economic growth.

Asian shares pared losses on Monday after China’s manufacturing increased at a faster pace this month, according to the final reading of a Purchasing Managers’ Index from HSBC Holdings and Markit Economics today.

BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s largest oil producer, lost 0.8% as crude declined.

Fairfax Media Ltd. jumped 7.4%, paring its slump in 2012, amid speculation billionaire Gina Rinehart and investor John Singleton may seek control of Australia’s second-largest newspaper publisher.

China Resources Power Holdings Co., a Hong Kong-listed mainland utility, gained 1.3% after a survey showed Chinese manufacturing speeding up.

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