Australian shares traded flat despite an uncertain general election result, as mining companies rallied on hopes that a government tax proposal will be scrapped.
The ruling Labour Party and the opposition Liberal Party are now lobbying for the support of independent lawmakers to try to stitch together the nation's first minority government since World War II.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.9, or less than 0.1 percent, to 4,429.00 â¿¿ the retreat was negligible as commodity stocks advanced on hopes that a proposed mining profits tax would be dropped if the opposition Liberal Party forms the new government. Mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. added 0.6 percent, while rival Rio Tinto Ltd. rose 0.9 percent.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average shed 0.7 percent to 9,116.69 as a strong yen â¿¿ which can reduce the profits of Japanese exporters â¿¿ continued to drag sentiment. As expected, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa discussed on the telephone recent foreign exchange developments, according to Kyodo news agency.Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.6 percent to 20,863.92 and Seoul's Kospi fell 0.4 percent to 1,767.71. The Shanghai Composite index eased 0.1 percent to 2,639.27 while markets in Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand rose. Benchmark crude for October delivery was down 61 cents at $73.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 97 cents to settle at $73.82 a barrel on Friday.