U.S. Markets closed

Asia stock markets calm despite US govt shutdown

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

People walk past the electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average, the region's heavyweight, closed 2.1 percent lower at 14,455.80 as financial markets were rocked Monday by fears that the U.S. government was heading for a shutdown and renewed political instability in Italy. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets on Wednesday dealt calmly with a partial U.S. government shutdown precipitated by the failure of lawmakers to agree on a way to allow the nation to temporarily pay its bills.

The shutdown went into effect after a politically divided Congress failed to approve short-term funding to keep the government functioning past Monday, the end of its fiscal year.

Analysts said they expect the budget stalemate to be resolved before the shutdown inflicts the damage on the economy. But there were signs at least some investors were keeping their guard up.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent to 23,013.23, reopening after a one-day public holiday, but trading volume was very light. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was 0.1 percent higher at 5,210.50. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.1 percent to 2,001.41. Benchmarks in Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines also rose.

Some investors fear the budget standoff could spill over into a dispute about raising the nation's borrowing limit. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said last week that the government would run out of borrowing authority by roughly Oct. 17.

The last time the borrowing limit, or debt ceiling, issue came up in August 2011, it led to a downgrade of the United States' credit rating by Standard & Poor's.

"Everyone is very cautious about how to react to the U.S. shutdown," said Andrew Sullivan at Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong. "There's a lot for people to worry about. In such cases, people prefer to hold their cash on the sidelines."

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.7 percent to 14,382.11 after the government Tuesday announced it would go ahead with a sales tax increase in April. The tax, intended to offset the country's soaring public debt, will rise from 5 percent to 8 percent.

Markets in mainland China were closed for public holidays, so couldn't react to a survey showing that manufacturing in the world's No. 2 economy barely expanded in September. Tuesday's report by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed manufacturing expanded for the third month in a row.

But the group's purchasing managers' index rose by only a fraction to 51.1 last month from 51.0 in August, less than economists expected.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4 percent Tuesday to close at 15,191.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.8 percent to 1,695. The Nasdaq composite rose 46.50 points, or 1.2 percent, to 3,817.98.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was down 54 cents to $101.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 29 cents to close at $102.04 on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3516 from $1.3518 late Tuesday. The dollar fell to 97.80 yen from 98.02 yen.


Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pamelasampson