Asian markets slightly up with investors cautiously optimistic about US debt deal prospects

MANILA, Philippines – Asian stock markets rose Tuesday, tracking gains on Wall Street, where shares were boosted by signs that Washington was moving closer to a deal that would avert a debt default by the U.S. government.

Two days from a deadline to increase the U.S. debt ceiling, investors remain focused on developments in Washington. Most think a deal will be reached in time and stock markets were holding up.

The U.S. has to increase the amount of debt it can sell by Oct. 17 or face a possible default, a scenario that could derail the U.S. economic recovery and roil international markets.

Investors in Asia “are hoping that the US can have a deal done to resolve the debt limit problem in coming days, so I think that’s the biggest news for the Asian markets,” said Jackson Wong, vice-president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.

Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over the weekend failed to reach a conclusion either on raising the debt ceiling or the partial shutdown of the U.S. government, which has now entered a third week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average added 0.2 per cent to 14,425.04 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.6 per cent to 23,351.84. South Korea’s Kospi was 0.8 per cent higher at 2,036.56. Taiwan’s stock index rose 0.9 per cent to 8,347.55.

China’s Shanghai Composite index bucked the trend, down 0.3 per cent at 2,230.62.

Wong said recent economic data from China has been mixed, with investors still not sure whether the Chinese economy will stabilize after a prolonged slowdown.

Markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines were closed for holidays.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 64 points, or 0.4 per cent, to close at 15,301 on Monday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose seven points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1,710. The Nasdaq composite rose 23 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 3,815.

In energy trading, benchmark crude for November delivery was down 13 cents at$102.28 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The euro rose to $1.356 from $1.3554 late Monday. The dollar dropped to 98.45 yen from 98.67 yen.