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Stocks fluctuate amid China data, US budget talks

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm •  Published: December 14, 2012

Meanwhile, investors are keeping a close eye on unresolved budget negotiations in Washington between President Barack Obama and key Republican lawmakers.

A deal must be reached by the end of the year to avoid what has been dubbed the "fiscal cliff" — hundreds of billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts and tax increases that could plunge the world's largest economy back into recession.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 22,605.9. Mainland Chinese shares posted sharp gains, with the Shanghai Composite Index surging 4.3 percent to 2,150.63 on the back of the manufacturing data. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index shot up 4.2 percent to 816.19.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index sank slightly following the release of a Bank of Japan survey which showed large Japanese manufacturers are more pessimistic about business conditions. The "tankan" index for the December quarter dropped from September's minus three to minus 12, much worse than expected.

The benchmark in Tokyo fell 0.1 percent to close at 9,737.56, a day after closing at an eight-month high.

South Korea's Kospi fell 0.4 percent to 1,995.04. Benchmarks in Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan also fell. Australia's S&P/ASX was nearly unchanged at 4,583.10.

Benchmark crude was up 84 cents to $86.75 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 88 cents to end at $85.89 per barrel in New York on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3165 from $1.3075 late Thursday in New York. The dollar fell against the Japanese yen, to 83.42 yen from 83.58 yen.