Asian shares tad higher amid US tax-cut deal vote

An investor walks past the stock price monitor at a private securities company Monday Dec. 13, 2010 in Shanghai, China. World markets rose Monday after Chinese authorities refrained from raising interest rates over the weekend and said they favored a strong growth policy despite high inflation. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 2.9 percent to 2,922.95. (AP Photo)

Asian stocks eked out mostly small gains Tuesday as investors digested news that President Barack Obama's tax-cut package had gained enough votes in the Senate.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.1 percent to 10,306.97. The index wavered between positive and negative territory as investors locked in gains after the index hit a new seven-month closing high the previous day. Some exporters retreated as the dollar fell back under the 84-yen line.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 10,311.83. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 percent to 2,003.08, climbing above the psychologically important 2,000-level for the first time in three years.

Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also inched higher.

In New York Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed with a gain of 18.24, or 0.2 percent, to 11,428.56.

Sentiment was bolstered by expectations that the tax deal would be successful. Economists expect the nearly $900 billion tax package to boost economic growth in the world's largest economy and increase the size of the budget deficit.

The broader S&P 500 index eked out a new 2010 high for the fourth time in four days, rising 0.06 point to 1,240.46. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index fell 12.63, or 0.5 percent, to close at 2,624.91.

In currencies, the dollar was little changed at 83.46 yen from 83.47 yen late Monday. The euro rose to $1.3393 from $1.3379.

Benchmark crude for January delivery was down 21 cents at $88.40 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 82 cents to settle at $88.61 on Monday.