Japanese stock futures and Australian equities gained after a report showed U.S. companies increased hiring and more investors signed on to a Greek debt swap, boosting optimism for the global economic outlook.
American depositary receipts of Nissan Motor Co. (7201), a Japanese carmaker that gets about 80 percent of its revenue overseas, rose 1 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s No. 2 publicly traded bank, gained 0.8 percent. BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s No. 1 oil producer, advanced 0.9 percent in Sydney after crude prices climbed.
“Investors are likely to buy shares on the back of good factors from the U.S.,” including the jobs data, said Mitsushige Akino, who oversees about $600 million in Tokyo at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. “Exporters and energy-related companies will likely be bought due to a weaker yen and higher commodity prices.”
Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) expiring in March closed at 9,650 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 9,580 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 9,640 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.3 percent in Wellington after the central bank signaled it may leave interest rates at a record low for much of the year.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPXL1) slid 0.1 percent today. The gauge advanced 0.7 percent in New York yesterday after ADP Employer Services reported U.S. companies added 216,000 workers to payrolls in February. The median estimate in the Bloomberg News survey called for a 215,000 increase this month. The private report came two days before the Labor Department’s monthly jobs data. Consumer borrowing rose more than forecast in January.
Optimism about Greece’s debt swap drove stocks higher. Investors with at least 58 percent of the Greek bonds eligible for the nation’s debt swap have so far indicated they’ll participate, putting the country on the verge of the biggest sovereign restructuring in history.
Also boosting U.S. equities, the Wall Street Journal said the Federal Reserve would print new money to buy long-term mortgage or Treasury bonds, then effectively tie up that money by borrowing it back for short periods at low rates.
The yen depreciated to as low as 81.22 against the dollar today in Tokyo, compared with 80.73 at the close of stock trading yesterday. Against the euro, Japan’s currency weakened to 106.80 from 106.12. A weaker yen boosts the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated.
Crude oil for April delivery rose 1.4 percent to settle at $106.16 a barrel yesterday in New York. Copper futures for May delivery rebounded from a two-week low.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) gained 9.3 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 7.6 percent advance by the S&P 500 and a 6.4 percent increase by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 14.5 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13 times for the S&P 500 and 10.8 times for the Stoxx 600.
The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index (CH55BN) of the most-traded Chinese equities in the U.S added 0.7 percent to 104.85 in New York yesterday, the biggest daily gain this month.
In Japan, the government is scheduled to release a report on the nation’s gross domestic product at 8:50 a.m. in Tokyo.
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