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Asian Stocks Advance as Obama Calls for Syria Pause

Asian stocks gained, extending the longest rally in the benchmark index this year, after President Barack Obama pulled the U.S. from the brink of a military strike against Syria.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s biggest mining company, rose 1.2 percent in Sydney after metal futures climbed. Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd. jumped 6.1 percent in Singapore after Credit Suisse Group AG and DBS Group Holdings Ltd. raised their ratings for the Chinese shipbuilder. Inpex Corp., Japan’s biggest energy explorer, sank 3.4 percent after crude oil fell.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.3 percent to 137.48 as of 7:45 p.m. in Tokyo, having swung between gains of as much as 0.4 percent and losses of 0.2 percent. About five shares rose for every four that fell on the measure, which advanced 6.2 percent in the past nine days. The rally drove the gauge’s 14-day relative strength index, an indicator of trading momentum, to 66 yesterday, near a threshold of 70 that signals to analyst shares may have risen too far.

“Markets probably won’t shoot much higher unless we have more positive catalysts,” said Naoki Fujiwara, Tokyo-based chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co., which oversees about $6.5 billion. “Syria’s situation was much more unclear last week and investors couldn’t take a position, but now things have turned and they are willing to take more risks. But uncertainties around Syria do remain.”

‘Cautiously Optimistic’

Obama said in a live broadcast from Washington that he had asked Congress to delay a vote authorizing the use of military force while pursuing a diplomatic solution that would have Syria surrender its chemical weapons.

“We’re still cautiously optimistic,” Daphne Roth, Singapore-based head of Asian equity research at ABN Amro Private Banking, which oversees about $207 billion, said in a telephone interview. “Asia is very polarized and I prefer countries that are running current account surpluses such as China. Liquidity will be withdrawn out of Asia as Fed tapering materializes. That will have a big impact.”

The Federal Reserve has said any reduction in stimulus will be tied to a sustained recovery in U.S. employment. The central bank will decide to cut its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases this month, according to 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg from Aug. 9-13. The Federal Open Market Committee holds a two-day meeting on Sept. 17-18.

Regional Gauges

China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent to close at its highest since June 6. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.6 percent to the highest level in more than five years, as the nation’s consumer confidence index climbed to the strongest reading since December 2010. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi index gained 0.5 percent.

Japan’s Topix index slipped 0.1 percent, erasing gains of as much as 0.8 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index was little changed and Singapore’s Straits Times Index dropped 0.5 percent.

The Topix surged 38 percent this year, with Japanese equities performing the best among developed markets tracked by Bloomberg. Shares have jumped amid optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan can lead the country out of deflation with stimulus and reforms.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) of mainland Chinese companies traded in Hong Kong dropped 0.6 percent, erasing gains of as much as 0.8 percent. The gauge yesterday climbed 21 percent from a June 25 low, entering what some investors consider a bull market. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.2 percent.

U.S. Futures

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell less than 0.1 percent today. The equity gauge advanced 0.7 percent in New York yesterday, extending gains for a sixth day, as reports showed China’s economy is improving and amid signs of easing tensions over Syria.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 6 percent this year through yesterday. Shares on the Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 13.4 times estimated earnings, compared with 15.2 times for the S&P 500 Index and 14.1 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Miners advanced after copper, platinum and silver futures increased. BHP Billiton rose 1.2 percent to A$36.33 in Sydney. Rio Tinto Group (RIO), the world’s second-largest mining company, climbed 2 percent to A$64.15. Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer of the metal, added 1.1 percent to HK$16.50 in Hong Kong.

Glencore Xstrata Plc, the global commodity trader and metals producer run by billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, jumped 3.3 percent to HK$40.20 in Hong Kong. The company raised its estimate of savings from the takeover of Xstrata Plc to at least four times the initial forecast.

Yangzijiang, BYD

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding climbed 6.1 percent to S$1.04 in Singapore, its biggest advance since October 2011. Credit Suisse raised its rating to outperform from neutral, saying the company will benefit from a recovery in shipbuilding orders because of its low production cost. DBS raised its rating to buy from hold.

BYD Co. (1211), the Chinese automaker that counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. as an investor, jumped 9.6 percent to HK$34.35 in Hong Kong. BYD is developing a new electric vehicle that can accelerate to about 62 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, challenging Tesla Motors Inc., Sina.com reported yesterday, citing founder Wang Chuanfu. Tesla’s Model S sedan can reach a speed of 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds, according to the company’s website.

Energy producers declined as crude oil futures headed for a third day of decline. Inpex sank 3.4 percent to 451,500 yen in Tokyo. PetroChina Co. (857), China’s biggest energy company, slipped 2.6 percent to HK$8.60 in Hong Kong.

Apple Inc. suppliers dropped after the world’s biggest handset maker announced the introduction of a cheaper iPhone. Largan Precision Co., which sells camera lenses to Apple, sank 6.4 percent to NT$945 in Taipei. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317), an assembler of iPhones and iPads, lost 1.3 percent to NT$76. AAC Technologies Holdings Inc., a supplier of acoustic components, slid 4.2 percent to HK$36.75 in Hong Kong.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Burgos in Singapore at jburgos4@bloomberg.net; Kana Nishizawa in Hong Kong at knishizawa5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah McDonald at smcdonald23@bloomberg.net

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