Global Markets: Investors agonize as US teeters at edge of fiscal cliff

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Financial markets across Asia and Western Europe were either closed or closing early on Monday. (Reuters) Financial markets across Asia and Western Europe were either closed or closing early on Monday. (Reuters)
SummaryFinancial markets across Asia and Western Europe were either closed or closing early on Monday.

Financial markets across Asia and Western Europe were either closed or closing early on Monday, abandoning the field as the U.S. Congress and the White House battled it out for a solution to the impending "fiscal cliff".

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Market holidays were in force in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, with half-day trading in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was effectively unchanged given the extensive market closures.

It has gained about 18 percent this year, a sharp turnaround from an 18 percent plunge in 2011.

In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would resume sitting at 11 a.m. Washington time (1600 GMT), to continue discussions, but there were still significant differences between the two sides.

S&P 500 futures were up 5.6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,389.40 in electronic trading at 0030 GMT. Dow and Nasdaq futures were also slightly higher on news the parties were still talking.

But traders said the rise in the futures market did not necessarily bode well for a Wall Street rally on Monday after the cash market and futures markets closed far apart on Friday.

"Hard to predict how or when there will be a deal, but I believe investors will show their displeasure tomorrow by selling stocks if there is no deal," said Mohannad Aama, managing director at Beam Capital Management, an investment advisory firm in New York.

The U.S. dollar was trading around 85.96-97, off its two-year, four-month highs above 86.63-64 yen seen last Friday as investors sold to take profits amid the fiscal cliff uncertainty.

The euro inched up 0.14 percent to 1.323 on Monday. An agreement on the U.S. budget would be viewed as positive for riskier currencies such as the euro and Australian dollar, while a deadlock is deemed positive for the haven and highly liquid dollar.

The Australian dollar was around $1.0365, from $1.0375 in late New York on Friday. It touched a one-month low of $1.0345 last week, but is on track to finish up 1.4 pct this year.

The Aussie dollar was supported by a bounce in iron ore prices , which hit eight- month highs at $139.40. Prices are now up 61 percent from the lows hit in September. Australian shares fell 0.4 percent in a shortened session on Monday ahead of the New Year's Day holiday with big

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