Asian stocks rose, sending a regional benchmark index toward its biggest two-day gain in two years, as optimism European officials will protect banks from the region’s debt crisis boosted the earnings outlook for lenders and exporters.
National Australia Bank Ltd., the nation’s largest lender to businesses, gained 3.9 percent in Sydney. Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., which owns ports in Germany and Spain, surged 10.5 percent in Hong Kong after saying its operations in Europe are “very resilient.” Li & Fung Ltd., the world’s biggest supplier of clothes and toys to retailers, surged 7.6 percent. BHP Billiton Ltd., No. 1 mining company, jumped 2.5 percent in Sydney after commodity prices increased.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 2 percent to 112.81 as of 6:22 p.m. in Tokyo. More than three stocks advanced for each that declined on the measure, which headed for a 0.3 percent decline this week. The gauge tumbled 16 percent in the last quarter, the biggest drop since 2008, amid concern that Europe’s debt crisis and a U.S. economic slowdown will drag the world back into recession.
“It certainly sounds like policy makers in Europe are understanding the situation with the banking system and getting more willing to recapitalize the banks,” said Belinda Allen, a senior investment analyst at Colonial First State Global Asset Management in Sydney, which oversees about $145 billion. “But we haven’t seen that yet. I think it is a real risk until we see an announcement.”
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 1 percent, extending a 1.7 percent advance yesterday. South Korea’s Kospi Index added 2.9 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 2.3 percent, to cap its biggest weekly gain in a year. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 3.1 percent.
The European Commission is pushing for a coordinated capital injection for banks to shield them from the fallout of a potential Greek default.
Banks in Europe rallied after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said the ECB will resume purchases of mortgage-backed securities and reintroduce yearlong loans for banks. In London, the Bank of England boosted its asset-purchase program by more than a third to 275 billion pounds ($425 billion).
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent today. In New York yesterday, the index advanced 1.8 percent, capping its biggest three-day rally since August after Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said U.S. banks have strengthened. Stocks also rose after a Labor Department report showed claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose less than forecast last week.
National Australia Bank rose 3.9 percent to A$23.76 in Sydney and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s biggest listed bank by market value, climbed 0.6 percent to 328 yen in Tokyo. Toyota Motor Corp., Asia’s No. 1 automaker, advanced 0.4 percent to 2,549 yen and Samsung Electronics Co. advanced 0.6 percent to 860,000 won in Seoul.
Hutchison Whampoa gained to 10.5 percent to HK$63.15 in Hong Kong. Li & Fung surged 7.6 percent to HK$13.
Commodity stocks advanced for a second day after crude oil for November delivery rose 3.7 percent in New York yesterday, and the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of raw materials advanced 2 percent.
BHP, Rio Tinto
BHP Billiton gained 2.5 percent to A$37.20 and rival Rio Tinto Group climbed 4.9 percent to A$66.40, set for the biggest three-day gain since 2009. Korea Zinc Co., which produces metals including zinc, lead and gold, jumped 15 percent to 282,500 won in Seoul. Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore energy producer, gained 4.4 percent to HK$12.84.
Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s biggest gold producer, rose 2 percent to A$35.76 in Sydney after gold futures for December delivery advanced 0.7 percent yesterday in New York. Zijin Mining Group Co. gained 14 percent to HK$2.41 in Hong Kong.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 20 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 7.4 percent loss by the S&P 500 and a 17 percent decline by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 11.3 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 11.7 times for the S&P 500 and 9.7 times for the Stoxx 600.
Among stocks that declined today, Sony Corp. dropped 3.7 percent to 1,415 yen in Tokyo. The consumer electronics manufacturer is getting closer to an agreement to buy Ericsson AB’s stake in their mobile-phone venture, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Nomura Holdings Inc. separately cut Sony’s rating to “neutral” from “buy.”