SYDNEY (Reuters) – Several major Asian stock indexes closed on Monday with the strongest annual gains in years, but these were overshadowed by the lack of progress in talks to avert the looming U.S. "fiscal cliff". Australian shares ended up 14.6 percent in 2012, the best yearly gain since the recovery of 2009. On Monday the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 22.4 points to 4,648.9, according to the latest data. It rose 0.5 percent to 4,671.3 on Friday, its highest close since June 2, 2011. Hong Kong shares ended their best year since 2009 hovering near 18-month closing highs on Monday. …
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