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Japan's Nikkei Outperforms As Opposition Wins Big

By PAN PYLAS

LONDON (AP) â¿¿ Japanese shares outperformed other markets on Monday amid hopes that the new government will enact fresh stimulus measures to boost the world's third-largest economy.

Signs that U.S. politicians are inching toward a budget deal helped Wall Street open stronger than earlier predicted and shored up European markets after a bad morning.

The standout index was Japan's Nikkei 225, which closed up 0.9 percent at 9,828.88, its highest level since April, after the country's Liberal Democratic Party swept back into power at weekend elections with a landslide victory.

Party chief Shinzo Abe, who is in line to become prime minister, favors increased spending on public works and setting a 3 percent economic growth target. He's also expected to lobby for stronger action by the central bank to get Japan out of its deflationary trap.

"Japanese equities rallied today on the back of a resounding victory by Shinzo Abe's LDP, giving them a mandate to boost economic growth through more aggressive fiscal and monetary easing," said Rebecca O'Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

Expectations of further stimulus in Japan, despite the country's sky-high debt levels and doubts over the effectiveness of looser economic policy, further weighed on the yen. The dollar was 0.4 percent higher at $83.72 yen.

The yen's recent weakness is a potential boon to the country's powerhouse exporters. Automaker Nissan Motor Co. rose 1.8 percent, Sony Corp. climbed 1.4 percent and Panasonic Corp jumped 2.3 percent.

Elsewhere, markets remained largely beholden to developments over the U.S. budget. The concern is whether the White House and Congress will agree a budget deal in time to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts at the start of next year.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 index closed down 0.2 percent at 5,912.15 while Germany's DAX edged 0.1 percent higher to 7,604.94. The CAC-40 in France slipped 0.1 percent to 3,638.10.

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