Asia Stocks Extend Best Week Since ’07 on Italian Austerity Plan
Asian stocks rose for a sixth day, with Asia’s benchmark index headed for its longest winning streak since Oct. 13, as Italy took steps to trim its debt before European Union leaders meet this week to tackle the region’s crisis.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s biggest lender, advanced 2.1 percent. Li & Fung Ltd. (494), a supplier of toys and clothes to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., rose 3.3 percent after U.S. unemployment fell to the lowest level since March 2009. BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and other Australian miners rose after the nation’s ruling party ended a ban on uranium exports to India.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.4 percent to 118.13 as of 6:30 p.m. in Tokyo with all 10 industry groups on the index gaining. The measure jumped 8 percent last week, the biggest weekly advance since Aug. 24, 2007.
“It’s pleasing that Italy backed relatively swiftly the new government to put in an austerity measure and demonstrate moving forward in terms of meeting requirements put in place by the EU,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne.
Stocks (MXAP) gained after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti yesterday announced 30 billion euros ($40 billion) of austerity and growth measures. Monti will present the package, which includes a tax on luxury goods, resurrects a property levy on first homes, and forces many workers to delay retirement, to both houses of parliament today.
This Week’s Summmit
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets French President Nicolas Sarkozy today to advance a plan for stricter enforcement of the region’s deficit rules that will be presented to European leaders at a summit in Brussels on Dec. 9.
“Expectations are mounting for this week’s European Union summit, making the market sensitive to any negative factors,” said Kenichi Hirano, general manager and strategist at Tachibana Securities Co. in Tokyo. “They are likely to reach an agreement, but domestic issues facing Germany and France may hamper the process.”
Banking shares gave the biggest boost to the MSCI Asia Pacific index amid optimism Europe’s debt crisis won’t damage the global financial system. Six central banks led by the Federal Reserve on Nov. 30 introduced measures to lower dollar borrowing costs for European lenders.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group advanced 2.1 percent to 345 yen, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s second- biggest bank by market value, gained 2.2 percent to 2,212 yen. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Australia’s biggest lender by market value, rose 0.8 percent to A$49.96.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 15 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 1.1 percent drop by the S&P 500 and a 13 percent slump by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.9 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.6 times for the S&P 500 and 10.6 times for the Stoxx 600.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.9 percent today. The index was little changed on Dec. 2 after the Labor Department said U.S. unemployment slid to 8.6 percent last month, the lowest level since March 2009. Employers added 120,000 workers, the figures showed.
Gains in Asian stocks were limited as Chinese stocks fell after a purchasing managers’ index for November dropped to 49.7 from 57.7 the previous month, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said on its website. The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the biggest Chinese stock exchange, slid 1.2 percent.
Anhui Conch Cement Co., China’s largest maker of the building material, dropped 2.1 percent to HK$25.75 in Hong Kong. China Railway Group Ltd., which is helping build the mainland’s train rail system, dropped 3.4 percent to HK$2.55.
Australian mining companies rose after the nation ended a ban on uranium exports to India to open a new market for suppliers and strengthen diplomatic ties between the countries.
Energy Resources, controlled by Rio Tinto Group, rose 9.8 percent to A$1.57 at the close of trading in Sydney. Exploration company Deep Yellow surged 10 percent. BHP Billiton Ltd. rose 1.7 percent to A$37.26 and Rio Tinto gained 1 percent to A$67.
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