Asian stocks outside Japan gained after U.S. housing and consumer confidence data beat estimates. Japanese shares fell as the yen rose ahead of an Italian bond sale, with yields surging after the nation’s deadlocked election stoked debt crisis concern.
Techtronic Industries Co., a power-tool maker that counts the U.S. as its biggest market, advanced 5.8 percent in Hong Kong. Canon Inc. (7751), a Japanese camera maker that gets 29 percent of its sales in Europe, lost 2.7 percent. Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM) added 2 percent in Sydney as gold jumped the most since November after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke defended the central bank’s asset purchases.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index gained 0.5 percent at 9:42 p.m. in Tokyo, with about 2 stocks rising for each that fell. The broader MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.2 percent to 133.14.
“You need to watch what happened to Italian bond yields and how much further they may rise,” said Andrew Pease, Sydney- based chief investment strategist at Russell Investment Group, which manages about $160 billion. “The markets are copying the U.S. and Europe right now. There were better data out of the U.S. and Bernanke’s somewhat reassuring comments.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 9.4 percent from the end of October through yesterday as Japanese shares rallied on speculation a new government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will press for more stimulus to beat deflation. Asia’s benchmark traded at 14.7 times estimated earnings compared with 13.5 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPXL1) and 12.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 1.3 percent, capping the biggest two-day loss since November 2011. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.7 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 added 0.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) Index rose 0.2 percent.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 0.2 percent today. The U.S. equity gauge added 0.6 percent yesterday, when reports showed purchases of new homes surged in January by the most in two decades and consumer confidence jumped this month.
Companies that do business with the U.S. advanced. Techtronic surged 5.8 percent to HK$15.66 in Hong Kong. James Hardie Industries SE (JHX), a building-materials supplier that gets 67 percent of sales from the U.S., climbed 1.6 percent to A$9.50 in Sydney.
Gold producers advanced in Sydney after the precious metal jumped yesterday on Bernanke’s comments that the Fed’s unprecedented asset purchases are supporting economic expansion with little risk of inflation or asset bubbles.
Investors are awaiting Italy’s sale today of as much as 4 billion euros ($5 billion) of a 10-year bond and 2.5 billion euros of a five-year benchmark note.
This week’s Italian elections produced a hung parliament, with comedian Beppe Grillo’s anti-austerity movement winning more than 25 percent of the popular vote, creating the risk of another election later this year. Italy’s 10-year bond yield yesterday jumped 41 basis points to 4.9 percent, the highest in four months.
Japanese exporters fell as the yen rose against most of its major counterparts. Canon dropped 2.7 percent to 3,235 yen. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), the world’s biggest carmaker, lost 2.3 percent to 4,605 yen in Tokyo. A stronger Japanese currency cuts the value of overseas earnings when repatriated.
AIA Group Ltd., the third-largest Asian-based insurer by market value, gained 4.1 percent to HK$32.85 in Hong Kong after beating profit estimates. The insurer’s net income surged 89 percent growth last year, helped by investments, stronger Asian currencies and product improvements.
Jupiter Telecommunications Co. jumped 11 percent to 122,900 yen in Osaka, the biggest gainer on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. (MXAP) KDDI Corp. (9433) and Sumitomo Corp. raised the offer price for the cable-television broadcaster to 123,000 yen per share from 110,000 yen.
AirAsia Bhd, Asia’s biggest discount carrier, jumped in Kuala Lumpur after saying it will introduce dividends this year as profits rose a fourth straight quarter. The stock soared 7.2 percent to 2.83 ringgit, the biggest gain since May.
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. closed unchanged at HK$137.80 after falling as much as 1.6 percent to HK$136.10. Its fiscal-year net income of HK$4.08 billion ($526 million) missed analysts’ estimates.
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