Japan Stock Futures Advance as U.S. Jobs, Durable Orders Improve

Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stock futures gained as U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped and orders for durable goods rose, boosting the earnings outlook for Asia’s exporters.

American depositary receipts of Honda Motor Co., a carmaker that gets more than 80 percent of its sales abroad, gained 1.6 percent. Those of Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s biggest commodities trader by revenue, rose 1.6 percent after oil and metals prices increased. ADRs of Canon Inc. climbed 1.6 percent after the Nikkei newspaper said the camera maker may pay a 120 yen dividend this year.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 8,540 in Chicago on Dec. 23, compared with 8,510 in Singapore. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,500 in Osaka, at 8:05 a.m. local time. Japanese markets were closed on Dec. 23 for a national holiday. Markets in Australia and New Zealand are closed today and tomorrow.

“The U.S. economy is improving more than expected,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, assistant manager at the investment strategy department at Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Pessimism is easing among American consumers due to a recovery in the job market and some stability in the stock market.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.9 percent today. The index added 0.9 percent in New York on Dec. 23. as orders for durable goods rose by the most in four months and the number of applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped last week to the lowest since April 2008.

Commodities Advance

The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index of the most-actively traded Chinese equities rose 0.9 percent on Dec. 23 to 95.80.

Commodity prices gained on speculation an economic recovery in the U.S. may spur demand for oil and industrial metals. Crude oil for February delivery gained 0.2 percent to $99.68 a barrel in New York on Dec. 23, the highest settlement since Dec. 13. The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six metals including copper and aluminum rose 0.7 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 17 percent this year through Dec. 23, compared with a gain of 0.6 percent by the S&P 500 and a 12 percent drop by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.7 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.8 times for the S&P 500 and 10.5 times for the Stoxx 600.

Japan and China will promote direct trading of yen and yuan without using dollars and will encourage the development of a market for the exchange to cut costs for companies, the Japanese government said. The government will also apply to buy Chinese bonds next year, it said in a statement after a meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing yesterday.

To contact the reporters on this story: Norie Kuboyama in Tokyo at nkuboyama@bloomberg.net; Toshiro Hasegawa in Tokyo at thasegawa6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net