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Asia: Stocks hold gain as Japan swings amid US vote countdown

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[SINGAPORE] Asian stocks maintained gains in volatile trading as investors await the outcome of the US presidential election, with early results showing Donald Trump capturing several states. Japanese shares fluctuated as the yen moved wildly.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.7 per cent to 138.76 as of 10:03am in Tokyo. The measure has failed to break above this year's peak reached in September as uncertainty over the US election weighed on global equities. Investors are bracing for what could be a volatile trading session on Wednesday, with Asian markets opening as election results start trickling in for the most contentious election in decades between Republican Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"We're being thrown this way and that over the voting results," said Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior analyst at Matsui Securities Co in Tokyo.

"Overall, the market has priced in a Hillary victory by about 80 to 90 per cent. If Trump wins, we can't deny the possibility of wild moves."

There were no early surprises as television networks and the Associated Press called the first states, with Mr Trump winning Indiana and Kentucky and Mrs Clinton securing Vermont's electoral votes. Several other states where polls closed at 7pm Eastern time, including Virginia and Georgia, were too close to call based on incomplete initial vote counts.

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The MSCI Asia Pacific Index has fallen 3.1 per cent from its September peak through Tuesday, as global investors look to the election, which puts the leadership of the world's largest economy at stake at a time when America is divided over immigration, trade and the country's role in the wider world.

Speculation around Mrs Clinton's chances have boosted odds on a Federal Reserve hike next month to 84 per cent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.3 per cent after earlier falling 0.4 per cent. The underlying equity measure gained 0.4 per cent on Tuesday to cap its best two-day climb since June.

Japan's Topix index rose 1.3 per cent as the yen weakened for a fourth day. South Korea's Kospi index added 0.6 per cent, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 0.2 per cent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.9 per cent. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading.

Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index added 0.2 per cent in their most recent trading, while those on Hang Seng Index slipped 0.1 per cent. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.5 per cent on Tuesday to a 10-month high.


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