Asian Stocks Climb on U.S. Data, Global Stimulus Bets

Asian stocks climbed, with the regional benchmark index touching the highest level since August 2011, after U.S. shares surged to a record as the service industry expanded at the fastest pace in a year and investors bet central banks will continue stimulus measures.

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), a carmaker that gets 25 percent of its sales in North America, rose 2 percent in Tokyo. Sharp Corp. jumped 14 percent as the unprofitable Japanese television maker is said to be in talks to secure investment from Samsung Electronics Co. ZTE Corp. surged 8.9 percent in Hong Kong after China’s second-largest mobile-phone equipment maker said it’s collaborating with Intel Corp. on next-generation smartphones.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.1 percent to 135.91 as of 9:39 p.m. in Tokyo, with almost four shares rising for each that fell. The gauge last week capped a four-month advance, the longest such winning streak since September 2009, as central banks around the world maintained loose monetary policies to support economic growth.

“Equity risk premiums have come down quite a bit,” said Daphne Roth, Singapore-based head of Asia equity research at ABN Amro Private Bank, which oversees about $207 billion. “Growth has certainly bottomed and a lot of the tail risks we’ve seen last year have certainly receded. Equity markets have done quite well.”

Bull Market

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) climbed to a record yesterday, erasing losses from the financial crisis, as the bull market in U.S. equities entered its fifth year this month. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.3 percent today.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.8 percent, closing at its highest since September 2008, after a report showed the nation’s gross domestic product expanded 0.6 percent last quarter from the previous three months.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) climbed 2.1 percent, while the Topix Index closed above 1,000 in Tokyo for the first time since October 2008.

“Everybody is bullish and I’m a bit scared because I don’t see a dove, but I have to keep up with the rally,” said Kuninobu Takeuchi, Tokyo-based executive portfolio manager at DIAM Co., which manages about $107 billion. “U.S. services data was excellent and I think the Bank of Japan will deliver nontraditional easing at its April meeting.”

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index increased 0.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index and Taiwan’s Taiex Index both added 0.2 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 1.3 percent.

Shares on the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index (MXAP) traded at 14.9 times estimated earnings compared with 13.9 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.6 for the Stoxx Europe 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Accelerating Growth

Exporters rallied as accelerating growth in the U.S. services industries added to signs the world’s biggest economy is recovering. The Institute for Supply Management’s non- manufacturing index, which covers about 90 percent of the economy, increased to 56 last month from 55.2 in January, according to a report released yesterday. Readings above 50 signal expansion.

Toyota gained 2 percent to 4,830 yen in Tokyo. James Hardie Industries SE (JHX), a building materials supplier that gets two- thirds of its sales from the U.S., advanced 3.6 percent to A$10.31, a record, in Sydney. Li & Fung Ltd., a supplier of toys and clothes to retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., rose 1.2 percent to HK$10.44 in Hong Kong.

Nufarm Ltd. (NUF), Australia’s largest supplier of agricultural chemicals, rebounded 6.4 percent to A$5.16 in Sydney. The shares slumped 12 percent yesterday after the company said it will lose the rights to sell Monsanto Co.’s Roundup weed killer. Macquarie Group Ltd. raising its rating on Nufarm to neutral from underperform, saying the selling was excessive.

Sharp, Samsung

Sharp jumped 14 percent to 341 yen. The maker of Aquos televisions is in talks to get an investment of about 10 billion yen ($107 million) from Samsung Electronics, according to two people familiar with the matter. The deal was confirmed after Tokyo trading closed.

ZTE climbed 8.9 percent to HK$14.14 in Hong Kong. The company said yesterday that it and Intel will jointly develop a processor for ZTE’s next-generation smartphones.

Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer of the metal, advanced 2.9 to HK$17.98. Chairman Li Baomin said demand for the metal used in wires and pipes will increase this year amid rising urbanization in the world’s second-largest economy.

Soho China Ltd., the biggest developer in Beijing’s central business district, gained 6.7 percent to HK$6.22 after reporting full-year underlying profit more than doubled to 3.34 billion yuan ($537 million) from 1.42 billion yuan a year earlier as it delivered more properties to buyers.

Of the 414 companies on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index that reported earnings this period and for which estimates were available, about 50 percent exceeded estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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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