Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index set for the highest close in almost three months, after the yen fell and Apple Inc. reported quarterly profit more than doubled, boosting the earnings outlook for Asian exporters.
Sony Corp. (6758), Japan’s No. 1 exporter of consumer electronics, advanced 4.8 percent. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (000660) paced gains among suppliers to Apple after the world’s largest technology company gained in after-hours trading. Lynas Corp., an Australian rare- earths miner, rose 5.1 percent after selling a $225 million convertible bond to help fund a delayed refinery.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (TPX) rose 0.7 percent to 121.38 as of 9:05 p.m. in Tokyo, with more than two stocks gaining for each that fell. The gauge was set for the highest close since Oct. 31.
“The yen is weakening, fueling expectations Japanese exporters’ earnings will turn up over the next fiscal year,” said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager in Tokyo at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “Apple jumped in after-hours trading because of its good earnings, which is a catalyst for Apple-related stocks to be bought.”
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.1 percent and South Korea’s Kospi Index advanced 0.1 percent. Stock markets in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan are shut for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Sony gained 4.8 percent to 1,454 yen after the yen weakened against all of its 16 major counterparts yesterday. A weaker yen boosts the value of Japanese exporters’ overseas earnings. Honda Motor Co. (7267), a carmaker that generates 83 percent of its sales outside of Japan, rallied 3.8 percent to 2,773 yen.
Japanese shipping companies gained as cargo rates climbed after Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a passageway through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes.
Nippon Yusen K.K. (9101), the country’s biggest shipping line by sales, added 3.6 percent to 203 yen. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (9104), ranked No. 2, climbed 7.6 percent to 298 yen. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (9107), the No. 3, jumped 6.3 percent to 151 yen.
“There is concern ships would have to travel further to load up on oil, which could reduce the supply of available ships,” said Ryota Himeno, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.3 percent today after Apple reported record quarterly sales and profit. Holiday purchases of the new iPhone 4S helped the company avoid a slump in consumer spending that has hurt rivals.
Apple suppliers advanced after shares of the iPhone maker jumped 7.3 percent to $451.08 in after-hours trading. Hynix Semiconductor rose 1.9 percent to 27,450 won. Murata Manufacturing Co. (6981), which supplies capacitors for the iPhone, added 2.7 percent to 4,260 yen. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), South Korea’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, rose 0.8 percent to 1.11 million won.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (TPX) gained 5.9 percent this year through yesterday, compared with increases of 4.5 percent by the S&P 500 and 4.7 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 1.3 times book value. That compares with 2.1 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in the U.S. and 1.4 times for the Europe Stoxx 600 Index in Europe.
Gains in stocks were be limited after European finance ministers pushed bondholders to provide greater debt relief for Greece, spurring concern the nation may fail to make a March 20 bond payment deadline. The International Monetary Fund also cut its forecast for global economic growth.
“It’s clearly negative for the market sentiment,” saidMatt Riordan, who helps manage close to $6.4 billion in Sydney at Paradice Investment Management Pty. “There’s been some hope that some agreement will be reached, but it’s continuing to drag on, and it’s quite frustrating.”
Lynas (LYC) climbed after selling a $225 million convertible bond to help fund a delayed refinery it is hoping to build in Malaysia. The rare-earths miner, which had been suspended from trading for two days, climbed 5.1 percent to A$1.345.
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