Asian Stocks Rise as U.S. Housing Trumps European Debt Concern

Asian stocks gained as rising home sales in the U.S. added to signs the world’s biggest economy is recovering even as Greece struggles to negotiate with creditors ahead of a meeting of European Union on the debt crisis.

Sony Corp., Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, climbed 4 percent in Tokyo. Olympus Corp., a maker of optical equipment that has lost $4 billion in market value amid an accounting scandal, jumped 8.2 percent after it was allowed to keep its market listing. Reliance Industries Ltd., India’s most valuable company, fell 2.7 percent in Mumbai after third-quarter earnings fell for the first time in two years.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2 percent to 120.94 as of 7:35 p.m. in Tokyo, after swinging between gains and losses at least seven times. The gauge advanced for a fifth week, its longest run in a year, as reports showed the U.S. jobs market is improving and falling European borrowing costs signaled the debt crisis may be easing.

“Any weakness is a good buying opportunity given improving economic data out of the U.S.,” said Nader Naeimi, a Sydney-based senior strategist at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which manages nearly $100 billion. “Greece can go hot and cold very quickly.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average closed little changed, after declining as much as 0.3 percent and rising as much as 0.3 percent. The BSE India Sensitive Index rose less than 0.1 percent, erasing a loss of as much as 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.3 percent. Markets in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are closed today for holidays.

Sony, Satyam

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.3 percent today. The gauge added 0.1 percent in New York on Jan. 20 as banks gained and results from International Business Machines Corp. and Intel Corp. boosted technology shares.

Exporters to the U.S. advanced as sales of previously owned American homes rose for a third month in December to the highest level since January 2011. The increase signals that the U.S. housing market, which triggered the global recession, ended last year with positive momentum.

Sony, the maker of Bravia televisions and PlayStation game consoles, climbed 4 percent to 1,422 yen. Billabong International Ltd., a surfwear maker that counts the Americas as its biggest market, jumped 6.4 percent to A$1.985 in Sydney. Satyam Computer Services Ltd., an Indian software maker that counts gets 52 percent of sales from North America, rose 1.6 percent to 72 rupees in Mumbai.

Temasek Stake

Godrej Consumer Products Ltd., the maker of personal-care products controlled by billionaire Adi Godrej, jumped 4 percent to 419.2 rupees. Temasek Holdings Pte., a Singapore state-owned investment firm, agreed to buy 4.9 percent of the company.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 6 percent this year through Jan. 20, compared with gains of 4.6 percent by the S&P 500 and 4.6 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 1.3 times book value. That compares with 2.1 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in the U.S. and 1.4 times for the Europe Stoxx 600 Index in Europe.

Olympus climbed 8.2 percent to 1,297 yen in Tokyo. Rather than force the camera maker to be delisted, the Tokyo Stock Exchange fined the company 10 million yen ($130,000) and required annual reports on efforts to improve management, the bourse said on Jan. 20.

Japanese internet-related companies rallied after BNP Paribas said the shares may be undervalued. DeNA Co., Japan’s biggest social-network game operator, surged 8.6 percent to 1,962 yen. Gree Inc., the second-largest, advanced 5.7 percent to 2,090 yen.

Greek Debt

Companies that receive revenue from Europe declined ahead of a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels to discuss new budget rules for the region, a financial firewall to protect indebted states and a Greek debt swap.

Greek officials and private creditors continued negotiations on a deal that’s crucial to lowering the country’s debt and securing more financial aid before it faces a 14.5 billion-euro ($18.7 billion) bond payment on March 20.

Canon dropped 1.2 percent to 3,390 yen in Tokyo. Shimano Inc., the bicycle parts maker that counts Europe as its biggest market, fell0.9 percent to 3,690 yen.

Reliance Industries slipped 2.7 percent to 771.55 rupees in Mumbai after the owner of the world’s biggest oil-refining complex said profit declined 14 percent from a year ago to 44.4 billion rupees ($884 million). That missed the 45.6 billion rupee median estimate of 29 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

United Spirits Ltd., India’s second-largest liquor maker by market value, sank 5 percent to 592 rupees after reporting third-quarter profit dropped to 470.6 million rupees from 1.3 billion rupees a year ago. JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “overweight.”

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. plunged after European and U.S. regulators said they are reviewing the safety of Gilenya, a multiple sclerosis drug it developed. The shares dropped 7.6 percent to 1,066 yen, the lowest since November 2009.

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