Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index headed for a second month of advance, as the yen touched a 27-month low against the dollar on prospects for more stimulus and China’s industrial companies’ profit gained.
Mazda Motor Corp. (7261), an automaker that gets 28 percent of its sales in North America, advanced 7.1 percent in Tokyo as newly installed premier said “bold’ monetary policy is one of the three pillars of his economic measures. Country Garden Holdings Co. (2007), a Chinese real estate developer, rose 3.4 percent in Hong Kong, whose equity market reopened after a two-day holiday. SK Telecom Co., the mobile telephone carrier among 119 companies trading without rights to year-end dividends on South Korea’s benchmark index, dropped 4.1 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.4 percent to 129.01 at 6:49 p.m. in Tokyo. Almost two stocks rose for each that fell on the measure, which has advanced 13 percent this year. Japanese shares rose to their highest since just before last year’s record earthquake and tsunami.
‘‘Abe is keen on changing the Bank of Japan’s inflation target and getting the Bank of Japan to undertake aggressive quantitative easing,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which oversees about $150 billion. “The 2013 outlook looks better for China, so if you get Japan undertaking aggressive quantitative easing and better growth in China, the rest of Asia should do well.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced this year as the U.S. and Chinese economies showed signs of recovery and central banks around the world took action to shore up growth. The Asian benchmark trades at 14.8 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.7 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
The Asia-Pacific gauge’s 14-day relative strength index, a measure of price momentum, increased to 72 today. A number above 70 signals to some investors that shares have advanced too far, too fast.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.9 percent too close at the highest level since March 10, 2011, the day before an earthquake and tsunami devastated north eastern Japan and triggered meltdowns at a nuclear power plant. The Nikkei 225 is heading for its biggest annual advance since 2005.
The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index gained 0.3 percent, with Sinopec Shanghai Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. advancing 6.4 percent to HK$2.67. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.2 percent in Wellington. South Korea’s Kospi index (KOSPI) gained 0.3 percent as data showed manufacturers’ confidence rebounded and sales at major department stores rose.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.4 percent and a gauge of Chinese companies listed in the city advanced 0.7 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.6 percent after jumping 2.8 percent in the two days through yesterday during which Hong Kong’s markets were closed. Taiwan’s Taiex Index (TWSE) increased 0.2 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.1 percent.
Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures were little changed. The gauge slid 0.5 percent yesterday as President Barack Obama and Congress prepared to resume budget talks and retailers slumped after the Christmas holiday.
Japanese exporters rose as the yen fell against 15 of its 16 major counterparts, boosting the earnings outlook for Japan’s exporters. Mazda climbed 7.1 percent to 166 yen. Nomura Holdings Inc. rated the company its top auto-industry pick, citing the improving profitability of new vehicles and a weaker yen. Nintendo Co., a maker of video-game players that depends on the Americas for 39 percent of its sales, rose 2.1 percent to 8,760 yen.
Hong Kong shares played catch-up with gains in mainland Chinese shares. Net income at Chinese industrial companies gained 22.8 percent in November from a year earlier to 638.5 billion yuan ($102 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said today in Beijing, after a 20.5 percent rise in October.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 8.2 percent this quarter through Dec. 24 compared with a 3.5 percent advance by the Shanghai Composite in the same period. The former British colony’s defacto central bank has spent more than $13 billion defending the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the U.S. currency since the Federal Reserve embarked on a third round of asset purchases in mid-September.
Country Garden gained 3.4 percent to HK$3.91 and developer Shimao Property Holdings Ltd., which develops real estate projects in China, rose 1.3 percent to HK$14.52.
SK Telecom, the biggest of South Korea’s three wireless operators, dropped 4.1 percent to 152,000 won after the expiration of dividend deadline. Yesterday was the last day to buy shares of the carrier and still get a year-end payment. KT Corp, the nation’s second-largest mobile-phone company, slipped 5.3 percent to 35,500 won.
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