Asian Stocks Rise on New Leaders in Europe, China ‘Soft Landing’

Asian stocks rose, paring two weeks of losses, amid optimism new governments in Greece and Italy will help contain Europe’s debt crisis and after top economists said China will have a “soft landing.”

Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s third-largest carmaker by market value, increased 2 percent after the nation’s economy expanded for the first time in four quarters. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. advanced 6.2 percent after two of China’s best-known economists said the economy was responding to policies to reduce lending, slow inflation and curb property prices. BYD Co., the Chinese carmaker partially owned by billionaire Warren Buffett, jumped 26 percent after a report new-energy cars will be exempted from some local registration restrictions.

“Italy’s government got into shape for now, easing investor concern the country will default,” said Naoki Fujiwara, who helps oversee $6 billion at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “People were worried financial reforms won’t go through without enough government support. But the outlook of whether European countries can actually reduce debt remains uncertain.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.2 percent to 118.81 as of 8:04 p.m. in Tokyo, with almost four stocks rising for each that fell. All 10 industry groups on the gauge advanced. The measure fell 5.9 percent in the last two weeks.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated 0.4 percent today, reversing an advance of as much as 0.7 percent. The U.S. benchmark index added 2 percent on Nov. 11 in New York after Italy approved debt-reduction plans.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 1.1 percent after the government said gross domestic product grew at an annualized 6 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30, the fastest pace in a year and a half. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index added 2.1 percent

Hang Seng Jumps

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 1.9 percent and Shanghai’s Composite Index increased 1.9 percent.

Mario Monti, former European Union competition commissioner, was asked to become Italy’s new prime minister over the weekend after the region’s debt crisis led to the unraveling of a coalition led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who was sworn in on Nov. 11, said the country’s new government must implement agreements from last month’s European summit to receive more loans and avoid default.

Japan’s exporters rose, with Nissan advancing 2 percent to 719 yen. Fanuc Corp., a maker of factory robots that gets 75 percent of its sales abroad, rose 3.6 percent to 12,810 yen.

‘Soft Landing’

Stocks advanced in Hong Kong after two of China’s best-known economists said the world’s second-largest economy was heading for a “soft landing.” Zhu Min, deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, and Fan Gang, director at the National Economic Research Institute, spoke yesterday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu, hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Nov. 12 pushed for increased imports as a means to balance the economy and foster global growth.

“The government has started to make one or two positive moves,” said Angus Gluskie, who manages more than $350 million at White Funds Management in Sydney. “There are some areas where possible loosening in monetary policy is starting. Collectively it means that if we see a credit issue improving in China, it’s going to take risk off the table.”

China Overseas Land & Investment rose 6.2 percent to HK$14.12, and Bank of Communications Co., a provider of commercial banking services, rose 1.4 percent to HK$5.73 in Hong Kong. Komatsu Ltd., a Japanese machinery maker that gets 23 percent of its sales in China, climbed 3.8 percent to 1,978 yen.

BYD Jumps

BYD, a maker of electric cars, rose 26 percent, the biggest increase since the day Buffett’s investment was announced in September 2008, to HK$20.85. New-energy vehicles will be exempted from new-car registration restrictions in place in some cities, according to a Nov. 12 report by official news agency Xinhua.

Want Want China Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest producer of rice cakes, surged 6.1 percent to HK$7.44 after Hang Seng Indexes Co. said the company will be added to Hong Kong’s benchmark index.

Hynix Semiconductor Inc. gained in Seoul after its shareholders accepted SK Telecom Co.’s bid to buy 20 percent of the chipmaker. The world’s second-largest maker of computer-memory chips added 3.5 percent to 22,300 won.

Tosoh Fire

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 15 percent this year through last week, compared with a 0.5 percent gain by the S&P 500 and a 13 percent loss by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at about 12.9 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.7 times for the S&P 500 and 10.4 times for the Stoxx 600.

Hanwha Chemical Corp. gained the most in five weeks in Seoul after a chemical plant operated by Japan’s Tosoh Corp. caught fire, triggering speculation the South Korean rival may benefit. Hanwha climbed 9.5 percent to 29,900 won.

Tosoh expects “severe damage” to equipment after the fire at its plant in western Japan, Managing Director Yasuyuki Koie said. The fire at the plant in Yamaguchi prefecture is “almost extinguished,” he said. The plant produces vinyl chloride monomer, a raw material for polyvinyl chloride or PVC. The stock fell 4.4 percent to 219 yen.

China Gas Holdings Ltd., a supplier of piped gas on the mainland, gained the most in almost three years in Hong Kong trading after saying an independent investor who it did not identify is keen to buy a “substantial stake” in the company. The shares rose 14 percent, the biggest increase since Dec.18, 2008, to close at HK$2.71.

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