Japan Stock Futures, Australia Shares Rise on Europe Progress

Japanese stock futures and Australian stocks rose after European leaders expanded a bailout fund and tightened anti-deficit rules, boosting investor demand for riskier assets.

American depositary receipts of Sony Corp., a Japanese exporter of consumer electronics which depends on Europe for 21 percent of its sales, rose 1 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Komatsu Ltd., a maker of construction machinery that counts China as its biggest market, added 1.4 percent on speculation a shrinking trade surplus may prompt China to ease monetary policy. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s No. 1 mining company and Australia’s biggest oil producer, rose 2.2 percent in Sydney after crude prices rose.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 8,645 in Chicago on Dec. 9, up from 8,520 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,630 in Osaka, at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.5 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.2 percent in Wellington.

The situation in Europe is “moving in the right direction, but I think we need to see more out of Europe before we can be confident,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which has almost $100 billion under management. “It’s appropriate to increase wagers a bit, going into a year-end period, which normally sees share prices move higher.”

‘Fiscal Compact’

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2 percent today. The index rose 1.7 percent in New York on Dec. 9 after European leaders in Brussels tightened anti-deficit rules and agreed to boost their rescue fund by as much as 200 billion euros ($267 billion) by funneling money to the International Monetary Fund. They outlined a “fiscal compact” to prevent future debt run-ups and accelerated the start of a planned 500 billion-euro rescue fund.

Stocks also gained as confidence improved among consumers in the U.S., the world’s biggest economy. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment rose to 67.7 in December from 64.1 in November, beating estimates.

In China, customs data released Dec. 10 showed the weakest export growth since 2009. Overseas shipments rose 13.8 percent last month from a year earlier, while the excess of exports over imports fell by 35 percent.

A smaller trade surplus and signs that capital has started to flow out of the country may encourage the ruling Communist Party to add to a Nov. 30 cut in bank reserve requirements, first such move since 2008, according to Shen Jianguang, a Hong Kong-based economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 16.4 percent this year through last week, compared with a 0.2 percent drop by the S&P 500 and a 12.8 percent loss by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.8 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.7 times for the S&P 500 and 10.6 times for the Stoxx 600.

Crude oil for January delivery rose $1.07 to settle at $99.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the biggest gain since Nov. 29.

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