Honda Motor Co. (7267) led Japanese carmakers higher, advancing 2.3 percent after Asian auto manufacturers recorded their best-ever month for U.S. sales. Shippers gained from Hong Kong to Tokyo as a measure of cargo prices reached its highest in 21 months. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, sank 0.7 percent after metals fell yesterday in London for the sixth time in seven days.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.2 percent to 133.33 as of 7:36 p.m. in Hong Kong, with almost two shares rising for each that fell. The measure capped its longest winning streak since December.
“The U.S. has one of the best economic momentums and we’re seeing the pickup of activity broadly based for the economy,” David Shairp, a global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV in an interview in Hong Kong. “We are still happy to be overweight equities.”
Americans spending more on cars and housing helped the economy maintain a “modest to moderate” pace of expansion from early July through late August, even as borrowing costs increased, the Fed said yesterday.
Japan’s Topix rose 0.1 percent. The Bank of Japan maintained its plan to increase the monetary base by as much as 70 trillion yen ($702 billion) a year, while raising its assessment of the nation’s economy and capital spending, the central bank said today at the end of a two-day policy meeting.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) climbed 1.2 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 0.8 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index added 1 percent, and Taiwan’s Taiex Index gained 1.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.4 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite was dropped 0.2 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.1 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index has risen 3.1 percent this year, trailing a 16 percent surge on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Benchmark gauges in Hong Kong and Singapore have led declines in developed markets amid concern about China’s slowdown, while the region’s emerging markets suffered outflows as investors dumped riskier assets before the Fed is expected to taper stimulus.
Speculation the Federal Open Market Committee will dial down purchases at its Sept. 17-18 meeting has roiled markets, pushing up U.S. bond yields and contributing to the worst rout in the currencies of developing nations in five years.
The prospect of U.S. military strikes against Syria is also adding volatility as investors gauge whether oil flows from the region will be disrupted. A resolution authorizing limited action is set to be considered by the full U.S. Senate as soon as next week after it was approved by the foreign relations panel. S&P 500 futures were little changed.
The Asia-Pacific benchmark traded at 13 times estimated earnings, compared with 15 times for the S&P 500 and 13.8 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 6.5 percent this year. Slower growth this year was a conscious choice by the government to allow it to adjust the nation’s economic structure, President Xi Jinping said Sept. 3.
Honda gained 2.3 percent to 3,760 yen. Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. climbed 1.2 percent to 2,577 yen. Toyota Motor Corp. added 0.3 percent to 6,250 yen. Honda’s U.S. deliveries jumped 27 percent last month, topping analysts’ estimates, and Fuji Heavy’s Subaru sales surged 45 percent. Toyota outsold Ford Motor Co. for a second month in a row, with a 23 percent increase that beat projections.
Shipping stocks advanced as freight rates increased amid signs the global economy is improving. Chinese services and manufacturing gauges this week confirmed the world’s second-biggest economy is strengthening following a two-quarter slowdown, and a euro-area manufacturing index increased more than strategists had forecast.
The Baltic Dry Index of commodity shipping prices rose 4 percent yesterday to 1,215, its highest level since January 2012, according to the Baltic Exchange in London, a publisher of costs on more than 50 trade routes.
Pacific Basin Shipping Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest dry-bulk carrier, surged 9.5 percent to HK$5.17. China Shipping Development Co. jumped 6.7 percent to HK$4.33, the highest in about six months. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the Tokyo-based operator of container ships, rose 3 percent to 239 yen.
China Construction Bank Corp. (939), the mainland’s second-biggest lender, gained 1.4 percent to HK$5.93 and was the most actively traded stock by volume for a second day, rebounding from yesterday’s loss on Bank of America Corp.’s sale of shares in the company.
Miners dropped as a gauge of metal prices in London fell yesterday. BHP Billiton lost 0.7 percent to A$35.28 in Sydney. Rio Tinto Group (RIO), the world’s second-biggest mining company, slipped 0.6 percent to A$61.19. Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s largest producer of the metal, fell 0.8 percent to HK$15.62 in Hong Kong.
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