BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday as traders refrained from major steps ahead of the U.S. presidential election and a leadership change in China.
The race between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney is virtually tied hours before polls open in the U.S., generating a kind of uncertainty that stock markets loathe.
A key political event also takes place this week in China. Thursday marks the opening of the Communist Party congress — the once-in-a-decade forum used to name China's top leadership.
There isn't any mystery about China's next leader. Succession plans call for Vice President Xi Jinping to lead the party for the next decade. But markets will be closely watching the congress for hints on how the new leadership plans to tackle a stubborn economic slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.
"Market participants will be distracted by today's US Presidential elections and Thursday's transfer of leadership in China," said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong in a market commentary.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5 percent to 8,966.13. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.7 percent to 21,860.86. Benchmarks in mainland China, Singapore and Taiwan also fell.
South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2 percent to 1,912.96. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 4,484.70. Benchmarks in New Zealand and the Philippines also rose.
In Europe, renewed focus on Greece's economic problems combined with uncertainty over the U.S. election to push markets lower. Germany's benchmark index, the DAX, dropped 0.5 percent, and the CAC-40 in France fell 1.3 percent.