Asian stocks advanced for a third day, with the regional benchmark index rising to a five-year high, as China’s exports topped estimates and companies including HSBC Holdings Plc posted earnings that cheered investors.
Komatsu Ltd. (6301), the world’s second-biggest maker of construction and mining equipment, advanced 4.4 percent in Tokyo to lead industrial companies higher. HSBC gained 1.7 percent in Hong Kong after the lender beat analysts’ estimates for profit. Toshiba Corp. (6502), the No. 2 maker of flash memory, slumped 5 percent in Tokyo before it reported missing its earnings forecast after close of market.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1 percent to 143.44 as of 6:20 p.m. in Tokyo, with all 10 industry groups rising. The measure increased 9.8 percent this year through yesterday amid speculation the Bank of Japan will deploy more measures to beat deflation as policy makers in the U.S. and Europe remain on standby to buoy growth.
“Markets are being driven by heightened stimulus,” said Matthew Sherwood, Sydney-based head of investment market research at Perpetual Ltd., which manages about $25 billion. “Economic data remains in the Goldilocks range -- weak enough to warrant continued stimulus, but strong enough to keep earnings expectations positive.”
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) climbed 0.7 percent. The broader Topix Index rose 0.5 percent extending a 4 1/2-year high. The gauge has rallied 65 percent since mid-November, making it the world’s best-performing major stock index.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index (AS51) gained 1.1 percent, the highest close in five years. Swap contracts show a better than 50 percent chance the Reserve Bank of Australia will lower its benchmark interest rate in July, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The bank cut the rate to a record low yesterday and signaled that slowing inflation gives it room to ease policy.
New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.4 percent as the country’s central bank’s governor said today he has scope to cut rates.
South Korea’s Kospi Index rose 0.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 0.9 percent, and Taiwan’s Taiex Index climbed 1.3 percent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) increased 0.9 percent, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.5 percent.
China’s exports rose 14.7 percent in April, topping the 9.2 percent increase estimated by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Imports climbed 16.8 percent in April, beating expectations for a 13 percent gain.
Komatsu, which gets almost 10 percent of its sales in China, advanced 4.4 percent to 2,728 yen. The shares led a gauge of industrial companies on the regional benchmark to a 1.4 percent advance, the most among the 10 groups.
The MSCI Asia Pacific yesterday traded at 14.3 times average estimated earnings compared with 14.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.2 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Wilmar International Ltd. (WIL), the world’s No. 1 palm-oil processor, climbed 2.7 percent to S$3.40 in Singapore as first- quarter profit surged 23 percent. Net income was $315.4 million in the three months ended March 31, beating the $296.5 million average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
HSBC, (5) Europe’s biggest lender, gained 1.7 percent to HK$87.70 in Hong Kong after posting a bigger-than-estimated increase in first-quarter profit as provisions for bad loans shrank, stirring speculation the lender may step up its cost- reduction targets.
Among stocks that fell today, Toshiba sank 5 percent to 512 yen in Tokyo. Net income at the maker of memory chips, televisions and nuclear reactors rose 11 percent to 77.5 billion yen ($784 million), missing its 100 billion yen forecast.
Of the 123 companies on the Asia-Pacific gauge that have reported quarterly earnings in the past four weeks, and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 54 percent have missed projections, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.1 percent today. The gauge yesterday added 0.5 percent to 1,625.96, a record close, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 15,000 for the first time.
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