BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s No. 1 mining firm, gained 1.2 percent in Sydney. Kubota Corp. climbed 1.6 percent after profit at the Japanese tractor maker surged 50 percent, topping analyst forecasts. Telstra Corp. (TLS) gained 2.4 percent as Australia’s largest phone company posted earnings that beat analyst estimates after luring subscribers to its wireless services.
The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index gained 0.8 percent to 438.29 as of 2:41 p.m. in Hong Kong, with nine of the 10 industry groups on the gauge advancing. Three shares rose for every two that declined.
“We are constructive on Asian equities,” Ronald Chan, a fund manager at Manulife Asset Management in Hong Kong, which oversees about $248 billion, told Bloomberg TV. China’s government “is putting a floor at 7 percent growth and it’s likely to end the year at 7.5 percent. That gives investors a little bit more confidence in the market.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, that includes Japan, fell 7.6 percent through yesterday from a five-year high on May 20 amid concern a slowdown in Chinese growth will worsen and as the Federal Reserve weighed a reduction in stimulus. The gauge gained 3.1 percent this year, compared with a 19 percent surge on the S&P 500. It rose 0.1 percent today.
That left the Asia-Pacific measure trading at 13 times estimated earnings compared with 15.3 for the S&P 500 Index and 13.8 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.3 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite slid 0.3 percent. China’s overseas shipments gained 5.1 percent in July from a year earlier, topping forecasts for a 2 percent increase. They fell 3.1 percent in June.
China, the world’s second-largest economy, expanded 7.5 percent in the second quarter after growing 7.7 percent in the previous three months.
Raw-materials shares posted the largest gains on the MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan index. BHP Billiton climbed 1.2 percent to A$35.31 and Rio Tinto, the second-largest mining company, added 1.5 percent to A$59.48 in Sydney. Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer of the industrial commodity, rose 2.1 percent to HK$13.46 in Hong Kong.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.1 percent, maintaining gains after a report showed the country’s unemployment rate remained at 5.7 percent in July.
South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.3 percent as the Bank of Korea left its benchmark interest rate at 2.5 percent, as predicted by all economists surveyed by Bloomberg. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.2 percent. Markets in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are closed for holidays.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) rose 0.2 percent today after the gauge fell yesterday for a third day. Fed Bank of Cleveland President Sandra Pianalto became the fourth U.S. central bank official this week to signal reductions in asset purchases may be warranted should the job market continue to strengthen.
Fed policy makers are weighing data to determine whether the U.S. economy has improved enough to begin reducing its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. Pianalto said yesterday there has been “meaningful improvement” in the labor market and that tapering may be warranted if it continues to strengthen.
Japan’s Topix index fell 1.4 percent and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 1.6 percent, with both gauges reversing earlier gains. The BOJ kept policy unchanged, matching forecasts of economist surveyed by Bloomberg. Most analysts expect more stimulus in the next 10 months as central bank Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and his colleagues seek to achieve 2 percent inflation.
The yen rose 0.1 percent to 96.21 per dollar at 3:30 p.m. in Tokyo, a fifth day of gains.
Even after falling for the past three months, Japan’s Topix index is still up 33 percent this year, retaining Japan’s position as the world’s best-performing developed equity market. The measure has risen amid optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will push through reforms while the BOJ provides record stimulus.
Kubota advanced 1.6 percent to 1,427 yen in Tokyo after reporting operating profit climbed 50 percent in the first quarter to 47.1 billion yen ($490 million). That beat the 33.8 billion yen average forecast in a Bloomberg survey.
Telstra advanced 2.4 percent to A$5.13 in Sydney. Net income rose 12 percent to A$3.8 billion ($3.4 billion) in the 12 months ended June 30 from A$3.41 billion a year. That topped the A$3.7 billion average of three estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Chong Hing Bank Ltd., Hong Kong’s smallest family-run lender, soared 18 percent to a record HK$26.45 after potential buyers approached the bank and its parent company.
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