Japan Stock Futures Rise on U.S. Economy; Australia Shares Fall

Japan Stock Futures Rise; Australia Shares Fall
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2 percent today. Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

Japanese stock futures rose after reports showed manufacturing is boosting the economic expansion in the U.S. Australian stocks fell.

American depositary receipts of Sharp Corp., Japan’s biggest maker of liquid-crystal displays, climbed 0.8 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Nomura Holdings Inc., the country’s largest brokerage, gained 0.7 percent. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Australia’s fourth largest bank by market value, declined 2.6 percent today in Sydney after reporting results.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 10,855 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 10,840 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 10,840 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed in Wellington.

“Investors are feeling more bullish on the economic outlook,” said Kazuhiro Takahashi, a general manager at Tokyo-based Daiwa Securities Capital Markets Co. “The recovery in manufacturing is especially strong.”

Still, investors may take a “wait-and-see stance” ahead of a meeting of the Group of 20 today in Paris, Takahashi said.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 0.1 percent today. In New York, the index rose 0.3 percent to 1,340.43 yesterday, the highest level since June 2008, as improving corporate earnings and manufacturing data overshadowed higher-than-forecast consumer price inflation.

U.S. Manufacturing

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s general economic index, a gauge of manufacturing, rose to 35.9 in February, the highest level since 2004 and exceeding the median forecast of 21 in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Separately, the Conference Board’s index of U.S. leading indicators rose in January for the seventh straight month, signaling the expansion will extend into this year.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 1.1 percent through yesterday in 2011, compared with gains of 6.6 percent by the S&P 500 and 5.6 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 14.2 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.9 times for the S&P 500 and 11.5 times for the Stoxx 600.

Crude oil for March delivery jumped 1.6 percent to settle at $86.36 a barrel in New York yesterday, the biggest one-day increase since Jan. 31, after protesters clashed with police in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, and Iranian state-run television said the country was sending two warships through the Suez Canal. Gold futures climbed as high as $1,385.40 an ounce, the highest since Jan. 13.

Of the 459 companies in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index that have reported results since Jan. 1 for the latest quarter, 181 have exceeded analysts’ estimates, while 139 have missed them, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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