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Sydney starts the new year rolling

Sydney's skyline erupted with tons of exploding fireworks as revellers cheered in the new year from the city's crammed harbour in the world's first major celebration for 2013.

The enthusiastic welcome to 2013 was continuing on a grand scale across Asia.

Increasingly democratic Burma was having a public countdown for the first time. Jakarta planned a huge street party befitting Indonesia's powering economy.

The buoyant economies of the Asia-Pacific are prepared to party with renewed optimism despite the so-called fiscal cliff threatening to reverberate globally from the United States and the tattered economies of Europe.

Celebrations were planned around the world, with hundreds of thousands expected to fill Times Square in New York to watch the drop of a Waterford crystal-studded ball.

Major cities across austerity-hit Europe were to burn off part of their battered budgets in spectacular fireworks displays, although some municipalities - including the Cypriot capital, Nicosia - cancelled their celebrations in light of the economic crisis.

Sydney's balmy summer night was split by 7 tons of fireworks fired from roof tops and barges, many cascading from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in a 4 million pyrotechnic extravaganza billed by organisers as the world's largest.

In Hong Kong, this year's fireworks display is said to be the biggest ever in the southern Chinese city.

One day after dancing in the snow to celebrate the first anniversary of leader Kim Jong Un's ascension to supreme commander, North Koreans were preparing to mark the arrival of the new year, marked as "Juche 102" on North Korean calendars. Juche means self-reliance, the North Korean ideology of independence promoted by national founder Kim Il Sung, who was born 102 years ago. His grandson now rules North Korea.

The Sydney crowds were undiminished by Australian government warnings that the Washington deadlock on the US debt crisis was partly to blame for a slowing Australian economy.

Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue hosted the event.

Hong Kong feng shui master Raymond Lo predicted 2013 would be less turbulent than 2012 because the Chinese New Year in February will usher in the year of the snake, bringing an end to the year of the dragon, which was associated with water. Water is one of the five elements in feng shui theory, the Chinese practice of arranging objects and choosing dates to improve luck.

"Water is fear. So that's why we have had so much turbulence especially in the winter months," such as doomsday prophecies, school shootings and concerns about the fiscal cliff, said Lo.

"But the good news is that the coming year of the snake is the first time that fire has come back since 2007. Fire actually is the opposite to water, fire is happiness. So therefore the year of the snake is a much more optimistic year. So you can see signs of economic recovery now," he added.

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