Asian Stocks Rise for Second Day on Global Economic Optimism

Asian stocks (MXAP) rose on the first full trading day of the new year after economic reports in the U.S. Germany and India raised optimism global growth will bolster the outlook for earnings in the face of Europe’s debt crisis.

James Hardie Industries SE (JHX), a supplier of building materials that gets 68 percent of its sales from the U.S., climbed 2.5 percent in Sydney. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and Honda Motor Co. led a rally among carmakers on a report that Chinese demand will lift global auto sales this year. Nomura Holdings Inc. (8604) jumped 6.9 percent after SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. said Japan’s biggest brokerage probably returned to profit last quarter.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 1 percent to 116.54 as of 8:12 p.m. in Tokyo, headed for its highest close since Dec. 8. Two stocks rose for each that fell on the gauge.

“Economic data across the globe have been encouraging,” said Michiya Tomita, a Hong Kong-based fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co., which oversees $65 billion globally. “Valuations are looking attractive.”

The Asian benchmark index slid 17 percent in 2011 as China took steps to cool its property market and Europe struggled with debt. The decline cut the value of shares on the gauge to 12.1 times estimated earnings on average as of yesterday, compared with 12.9 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) and 10.1 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Futures on the S&P 500 swung between gains and losses today after the gauge climbed 1.6 percent yesterday in the first day of 2102 trading. Reports showed manufacturing growth recovered across the globe in December.

‘Difficult’ Conditions

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) rose 1.2 percent as the country’s markets reopened after a four-day holiday. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 2.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index slid 0.5 percent, reversing an advance of as much as 0.5 percent. The BSE India Sensitive Index fell 0.4 percent in Mumbai.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) slipped 0.8 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.4 percent. Premier Wen Jiabao said business conditions in China may be “relatively difficult” for the mainland this quarter, citing continued inflation and weakened overseas demand.

Exporters Rise

Asian exporters advanced after a reports showed German unemployment fell more than forecast last month and U.S. factory output grew in December at the fastest pace in six months. R.L. Polk & Co., a research company based in Michigan, estimated the number of cars and light trucks sold globally will increase 6.7 percent this year.

James Hardie climbed 2.5 percent to A$7.02 in Sydney. Toyota gained 3.1 percent to 2,644 yen in Tokyo. Honda climbed 4.1 percent to 2,443 yen. Nissan Motor Co. (7201), Japan’s third- largest automaker, rose 1 percent to 699 yen.

Pegatron Corp. (4938), a Taiwanese electronics manufacturing services provider, increased 6.9 percent to NT$35.6. The company targeted 40 percent sales growth this year, driven by demand for laptop computers, mobile handsets and broadband modems, Chief Financial Officer Charles Lin told Bloomberg News today.

Japan’s biggest brokerages surged on speculation a recovery in financial markets will help revive the industry’s earnings. Nomura probably returned to pretax profit in the quarter to December 31, Kouichi Niwa, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo, wrote in a report. Nomura jumped 6.9 percent to 249 yen. Daiwa Securities Group Inc. (8601) gained 4.6 percent to 251 yen.

Commodities Surge

Raw-material producers led a rally among the 10 industry groups in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) as crude oil futures traded near an eight-month high and copper advanced yesterday by the most in almost five weeks.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s biggest miner, increased 4.1 percent to A$36.22 in Sydney. Glencore International Plc (805), the top commodities trader, rose 3.1 percent to HK$49.80 in Hong Kong. Inpex Corp. (1605), Japan’s largest energy explorer, gained 2.7 percent to 498,000 yen.

India’s services industry expanded in December at the fastest pace in five months. “Demand remains sufficiently strong to allow companies to increase prices,” Leif Eskesen, a Singapore-based economist at HSBC Holdings Plc.

ICICI Bank Ltd., India’s third-largest lender by market value, climbed 2.4 percent to 743.1 rupees. United Spirits Ltd., India’s second-largest liquor maker by market value, surged 9.6 percent to 564.75 rupees, the most on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index.

Elpida, Toshiba

Elpida Memory Inc. (6665) jumped 5.6 percent to 378 yen. The chipmaker and Toshiba Corp. are in talks on integrating their businesses, DigiTimes reported, without saying where it got the information. Elpida’s shares plunged 62 percent last year.

The Japanese government is pushing for a merger to maintain competitiveness against Korea’s chip industry, according to the report. Elpida declined to comment, while Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Ohmori denied the report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Burgos in Singapore at jburgos4@bloomberg.net

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

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