BANGKOK World stock markets were mixed Wednesday, with Asian shares up as China neared the climax of a once-a-decade leadership transition while Europe remained mired in uncertainty debt-swamped Greece.
Wall Street appeared headed for gains as renewed efforts got under way in Washington to resolve the impending "fiscal cliff." Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.5 percent to 12,782 and S&P 500 futures added 0.6 percent to 1,378.50.
But European stocks fell in early trading, despite Greece's successful sale of short-term treasury bills Tuesday. Without the sale, Athens would have found it impossible to repay the 5 billion euro ($6.4 billion) treasury bill maturing on Friday, the day on which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said Greece would run out of money.
Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent to 5,759.43. Germany's DAX was 0.1 percent lower at 7,160.64. France's CAC-40 shed 0.3 percent to 3,421.39.
Asian stocks heralded the leadership transition taking place at China's Communist Party congress this week. On Wednesday, President Hu Jintao stepped aside to make way for Vice President Xi Jinping as party leader. Traders were hopeful that the transition will be followed by greater initiatives to shore up China's listless economy.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.2 percent to 21,441.99. Mainland Chinese shares also gained, with the Shanghai Composite Index rising 0.4 percent to 2,055.42. The Shenzhen Composite Index gained 0.3 percent to 818.60.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose marginally to close at 8,664.73. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 4,388.40. South Korea's Kospi brushed off earlier losses to rise 0.2 percent to 1,894.04.
Traders have to deal with the uncertainty posed in the U.S. by the looming "fiscal cliff," a set of U.S. government spending cuts and tax increases that will take effect automatically at the beginning of next year unless U.S. leaders reach a compromise before then.
Unless Congress acts, all Bush-era tax cuts would expire, raising 2013 tax bills for most Americans. Obama wants to end those tax cuts only for households making more than $250,000 a year while Republicans oppose all tax rate increases.
Worries about the impasse pushed U.S. stocks to one of their worst weekly losses of the year last week.
U.S. lawmakers gathered for talks on Tuesday, giving traders hope that at least a temporary compromise might somehow be reached before a deadline in seven weeks. President Barack Obama was to meet later Wednesday with about a dozen business executives who want to see an agreement before the end of the year.
"People feel there's been a significant pullback over fiscal cliff worries," said Andrew Sullivan, an independent market analyst in Hong Kong. "The reality is we are likely to see a solution."
Among individual stocks, Japan's Sharp Corp. soared 7.2 percent after Japanese media reports said Intel Corp., the world's largest chipmaker, was in talks with the struggling electronics maker about a business alliance.
South Korean tech shares led gains in Seoul. Chipmaker SK Hynix gained 4.9 percent. LG Electronics added 4.6 percent on an improved sales outlook for the fourth quarter, Yonhap News Agency said.
Benchmark oil for December delivery was up 14 cents to $85.52 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 19 cents to finish at $85.38 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
The euro rose to $1.2730 from $1.2705 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 79.94 yen from 79.41 yen.