Japanese Stock Futures Climb on Europe Debt Talks, Australian Shares Rise

Japanese stock futures climbed on renewed optimism European officials will combat the region’s sovereign-debt crisis. Australian shares rose.

Finance ministers from Germany, France and four other countries with AAA credit ratings held a hastily scheduled meeting yesterday to discuss how to boost the financial firepower of the 750 billion-euro ($1 trillion) rescue fund for debt-hit states without pushing up their own borrowing costs.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said that euro-region finance ministers began talks on a “comprehensive package” to respond to the sovereign-debt crisis. Separately, European Union Monetary and Financial Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said that the European Financial Stability Facility’s lending capacity must be reinforced.

“There is hope that the EU and ECB will do all they can to solve the debt crisis, and there’s no reason to think of it as a huge risk factor,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, a strategist at Tokyo-based SMBC Friend Securities Co. “However the market is likely to fluctuate. Commodities are down on China tightening.”

Exchanges in the U.S. were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day yesterday. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.1 percent to 284.06 in London yesterday. Most stocks declined as the region’s finance chiefs began meeting to work on a new strategy to contain the sovereign-debt crisis. U.S. stock futures on the Nasdaq-100 Index fell 1.1 percent and ARM Holdings Plc, which designs chips for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, declined in London yesterday after Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs was granted a medical leave of absence.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September closed at 10,500 in Osaka, Japan, yesterday and were bid at 10,510 as of 8:05 a.m. today. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.2 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent in Wellington.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 14 percent in 2010, compared with a gain of 13 percent by the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index and a gain of 8.6 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 14.2 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.6 times for the S&P 500 and 11.2 times for the Stoxx 600.

Eastern Star Gas Ltd., an Australian natural gas explorer, rose 1.8 percent, after the company said it is in discussions with multiple Asian companies to sell a stake in a proposed liquefied natural gas project in Australia’s New South Wales state. The stock sank 1.2 percent to 84.5 Australian cents. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, fell 0.4 percent to A$45.14 in Sydney. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-biggest mining company, declined 1.9 percent to A$85.88

The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six industrial metals including copper and aluminum lost 0.5 percent yesterday. Oil futures fell as much as 71 cents to $90.83 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for March settlement dropped 79 cents to $97.59 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

In Japan, Park24 Co., the parking-lot operator, said sales rose 10.7 percent to 8.32 billion yen in December from the same month a year ago on a parent basis.

“There is a lot of hope that the earnings season will be favorable,” said SMBC’s Nakanishi.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Kitanaka in Tokyo at akitanaka@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net.

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