Japanese Stock Futures, Australian Shares Gain on Oil Prices

Japanese stock futures and Australian shares advanced after oil and metal prices gained on speculation the U.S. may extend stimulus measures, bolstering demand for commodities.

American depositary receipts of Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s biggest commodities trader, gained 0.1 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Toyota Motor Corp., the No. 1 carmaker worldwide, declined 0.1 percent after the yen strengthened against the dollar. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s No. 1 mining company and Australia’s biggest oil producer, climbed 0.7 percent in Sydney today.

“Commodity markets are firm, which may boost resource-related companies, but concerns about the strong yen may weaken exporters. The market overall is likely to become conglutinate,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, a strategist at Tokyo-based SMBC Friend Securities Co.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in December closed at 10,185 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 10,180 in Osaka. They were bid in the pre-market at 10,190 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time today. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 percent as of 8:03 a.m. in Tokyo today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slid 0.3 percent in Wellington.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The index fell 0.1 percent, snapping a three-day rally, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the world’s largest economy may need more stimulus.

Commodities Advance

Crude oil for January delivery rose 0.2 percent to settle at $89.38 a barrel in New York yesterday on speculation the U.S. may extend stimulus measures, bolstering fuel demand in the world’s largest oil-consuming country, and on cold-weather forecasts for the U.S. and Europe.

Crude extended its longest advance in four weeks after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the Fed may expand bond purchases beyond the $600 billion announced last month. Winter weather in parts of the U.S. and Europe boosted demand for heating fuel.

Copper futures for delivery in March rose 0.2 percent in New York, after reaching the highest for a most-active contract since Nov. 12. The Baltic Dry Index of shipping costs for commodities gained 1.6 percent yesterday, rising for a second day.

Gold futures jumped to a record $1,429.40 an ounce on concern the U.S. will pump more cash into the economy and Europe’s debt woes will spread, boosting the appeal of the metal as an alternative to currencies.

Stronger Yen

The yen appreciated to as high as 109.91 against the euro today in Tokyo, compared with 110.60 at the close of stock trading yesterday. Against the dollar, Japan’s currency strengthened to 82.67 from 82.86. A stronger yen reduces overseas income at Japanese companies when converted into their home currency.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 11 percent this year through yesterday, compared with gains of 9.7 percent by the S&P 500 and 6.9 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Shares in the Asian benchmark are valued at 14.5 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 14.4 times for the S&P 500 and 12.1 times for the Stoxx 600.

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