Positive talks over fiscal cliff boost Asian markets

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Asian shares advanced on Monday in early trading in response to positive comments by lawmakers in the U.S. about talks relating to the fiscal cliff while sustained weakness in the yen helped the Japanese stocks rise to a two-month high.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.9% to 121 as of 10:20 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average increased 1.4%, heading for its biggest four-day rally since March 2011. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.2%, while South Korea’s Kospi Index rose 0.9%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.6%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2%.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said negotiations over fiscal cliff were “constructive.” President Barack Obama, who is visiting Asia this week, said he is confident a deal can be achieved.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar continued to strengthen against the Japanese yen, the region's safe haven currency, bolstering Japanese stocks.

Exporters to the U.S. advanced the most. Toyota Motor Corp. rose 1.8% in Tokyo. Japan Tobacco Inc. jumped 6.5% as the government plans to postpone the sale of its stake in the cigarette maker.

Billabong International Ltd. surged 10% in Sydney after the surf-wear maker said it’s considering a takeover. Fanuc Corp. advanced 3%.

Li & Fung Ltd., a supplier of toys and clothes to retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., gained 0.5% in Hong Kong. Samsung Electronics Co., Asia’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, added 1.8%.

Kunlun Energy Co., a Chinese gas supplier controlled by PetroChina Co., added 4.2%.