Japan, Australia Stock Futures Rise as U.S. Housing Starts Gain
Japanese and Australian stock futures advanced after U.S. housing starts increased and earnings beat estimates at companies including Johnson & Johnson, signaling the world’s biggest economy is recovering.
American depositary receipts of Canon Inc. (7751), the world’s biggest camera maker, rose 0.7 percent from the closing share price yesterday in Tokyo. Those of Advantest, Japan’s largest maker of chip-testing equipment, gained 0.9 percent after Intel Corp. forecast quarterly sales that may top estimates. ADRs of Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL), Australia’s No. 2 oil producer, climbed 0.5 percent in Sydney as crude prices gained.
Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average expiring in June closed at 9,495 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 9,440 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 9,500 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.7 percent today.
“You’re seeing signs the U.S. and Europe are still on track for recovery,” said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager in Tokyo at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “That’s helped to ease nerves.”
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 1.1 percent today. In New York, the index advanced 0.6 percent yesterday after the Commerce Department said housing starts increased 7.2 percent in March from the previous month. Work began on 549,000 homes, exceeding the 520,000 median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Results Top Estimates
Companies in the U.S. and Europe also reported results that beat projections, helping boost confidence in the global recovery. Intel Corp. (INTC), the biggest chipmaker, forecast second- quarter sales that may top analysts’ estimates as demand for processors for high-powered machines that handle Web services overcame slower personal computer growth.
Johnson & Johnson, the world’s second-biggest seller of health products, forecast full-year earnings $4.90 to $5 a share, better than an outlook for $4.80 to $4.90 in January, boosted by new drugs.
Japan’s currency also weakened, giving a relief to the country’s exporters. The yen depreciated to as low as 118.44 against the euro today in Tokyo, compared with 117.24 at the close of stock trading yesterday on speculation the European Central Bank will raise interest rates further. Against the dollar, Japan’s currency weakened to 82.76 last night from 82.44.
Commodity producers were boosted by higher crude and metal prices. Crude oil for May delivery gained $1.03 to settle at 108.15 a barrel yesterday in New York. The London Metal Exchange Index of six metals including copper and aluminum increased 1 percent, the biggest gain in almost two weeks.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 2.5 percent this year through yesterday, compared with gains of 4.4 percent by the S&P 500 and drops of 0.5 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.9 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.5 times for the S&P 500 and 11 times for the Stoxx 600.
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