) -- Asian equity markets took fright Monday at the prospect of the first U.S. government shutdown in almost 20 years.
Congress has just a day to thrash out a compromise after the House of Representatives Sunday tied a one-year delay in key components of Obamacare to an extension of government funding until Dec. 15. The Senate said it would reject the amended bill, meaning the state could close some of its services Tuesday.
The Nikkei closed down 304.27, or 2.06%, at 14,455.80, while the Hang Seng gave up 347.18, or 1.5%, to close at 22,859.86.
Li Ka-shing's power generation company
Power Asset Holdings
was a rare bright spot, gaining 2.6% on the unconfirmed prospect of a $5 billion IPO or spinoff of its Hong Kong electricity division. In Australia,
gave up earlier gains after rebuffing a report in a U.K. Sunday paper that newly merged mining giant
had amassed a 10% stake and was considering a bid. The supposed target pointed out that it would have needed notification of a stake of that size and had received neither that nor an approach from the Swiss-based company.
In Europe, political uncertainty centered on Italy, where Prime Minister Enrico Letta called a confidence vote after Silvio Berlusconi withdrew his support for the five-month-old coalition administration. In Italy, the FTSEMIB was down 269.71, or 1.53%, by mid-morning at 17,376.45. The DAX fell 68.91, or 0.8%, at 8,5960, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. was down 43.62, or 0.67%, at 6,469.04.
Mining companies including
led the London losers amid concerns about the impact of the U.S. debt crisis on world growth.
Standard & Poor's futures fell 11.60 to 1,674.80.