Asian stocks rose, sending the MSCI Asia Pacific Index toward its biggest gain in three weeks, after Black Friday sales in the U.S. rose to a record, boosting the outlook for exporters, and as commodity prices advanced.
Alumina Ltd., which produces the material used to make aluminum, jumped 6.4 percent in Sydney, while Inpex Corp., Japan’s No. 1 energy explorer, gained 3.8 percent. Li & Fung Ltd., a clothing and toy supplier that gets 65 percent of its sales in the U.S., rose 10 percent in Hong Kong. LG Electronics Inc., a South Korean handset maker that gets more than 80 percent of its revenue overseas, jumped 8.6 percent.
The Black Friday sales proved the U.S. is “in a mild recovery, and consumer’s purchasing power isn’t something to be pessimistic about,” said Naoki Fujiwara, who helps oversee $6 billion at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “But with employment looking bleak, it’s uncertain whether the strong spending will continue.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 2.2 percent to 111.37 as of 7:30 p.m. in Tokyo, headed for its biggest increase since Nov. 4. All but one of 10 industries on the measure rose. Almost four stocks advanced for each that fell on the index.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.6 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index advanced 2.2 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 2 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 21 percent this year through Nov. 25, compared with a 7.9 percent drop by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and a 20 percent slump by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.1 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 11.7 times for the S&P 500 and 9.7 times for the Stoxx 600.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 2.8 percent today, indicating the gauge will end a seven-day losing streak.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called for fast-track treaty changes to tighten budget discipline to calm markets in an interview with ARD television in Berlin yesterday. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is set to propose more austerity measures this week to balance the country’s budget by 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
Moody’s Investors Service said the “rapid escalation” of Europe’s debt and banking crisis is threatening all of the region’s sovereign ratings. The probability of multiple defaults by euro-area countries is no longer negligible, Moody’s said in a statement today, adding that the longer the liquidity crisis continues, the more rapidly the probability of defaults will continue to rise.
Li & Fung rose 10 percent to HK$15.28 and Anta Sports Products Ltd., a Chinese sportswear maker, rose 9.5 percent to HK$7.98 in Hong Kong. LG Electronics increased 8.6 percent to 69,300 won in Seoul. Nintendo Co., the maker of video-game machines that receives more than three-quarters of its revenue outside Japan, advanced 2.2 percent to 11,450 yen in Osaka.
In the U.S., Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent to a record. Consumers spent $11.4 billion, ShopperTrak said in a statement on Nov. 26. Foot traffic rose 5.1 percent on Black Friday, according to the Chicago-based research firm.
Alumina jumped 6.4 percent to A$1.33, while BHP Billiton Ltd., the largest global mining company, gained 2.4 percent to A$34.85 in Sydney. Inpex increased 3.8 percent to 497,500 yen in Tokyo. Cnooc Ltd, China’s biggest offshore oil producer, climbed 2.7 percent to HK$13.86, snapping a record streak of daily losses.
Crude oil for January delivery gained 2.5 percent in New York today. Copper for three-month delivery increased 2.9 percent on the London Metal Exchange, while aluminum advanced 1.4 percent.