Japanese Stock Futures Gain on U.S. Confidence, Spending

Japanese and Australian stock futures gained as stronger-than-forecast U.S. consumer sentiment and spending bolstered optimism in the world’s biggest economy.

American depositary receipts of Canon Inc., a Japanese camera maker that gets 80 percent of its revenue overseas, rose 1 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Komatsu Ltd., a construction machinery maker that counts China as its fastest-growing market, gained 0.9 percent after a gauge of Chinese manufacturing rose to one-year high. ADRs of BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s biggest oil producer, added 0.1 percent after prices for crude and metals advanced.

“U.S. economic data has been solid and that’s helping to buoy confidence in the global economy,” said Toshiyuki Kanayama, a Tokyo-based market analyst at Monex Group Inc., an online brokerage. “You’ll probably see investors buy Chinese-related shares today. There’s increasing concern that China’s economy is slowing, but the Purchasing Mangers’ Index looked positive.”

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in June closed at 10,165 in Chicago on March 30, compared with 10,090 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 10,180 in Osaka, at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.6 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slipped 0.1 percent in Wellington.

Quarterly Rally

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.4 percent today. The index gained 0.4 percent in New York on March 30 after Americans increased spending by the most in seven months, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. A separate report showed that consumer sentiment climbed to the highest since February 2011.

The yen weakened against the dollar and the euro after stronger-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data boosted confidence in the global economy, reducing demand for refuge assets. A Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to a one-year high in March, China’s logistics federation and the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.

The yen depreciated to as low as 83.18 against the dollar today in Tokyo, compared with 81.93 at the close of stock trading on March 30. Against the euro, Japan’s currency weakened to 111.06 from 109.38. A weaker yen boosts overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated.

Crude oil for May delivery climbed 0.2 percent to settle at $103.02 a barrel in New York on March 30, capping a second quarterly gain. Prices increased 4.2 percent for the quarter after a gain of 25 percent in the last quarter of 2011.

Metals Prices

The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six industrial commodities including copper and aluminum gained 1 percent on March 30, the first advance in four days.

Chinese equities traded in the U.S. posted their best quarter since 2010 on prospects policy makers will step up monetary easing to combat further slowing in the world’s second-largest economy. The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index of the most-traded Chinese equities in the U.S rose 1.1 percent to 102.99 in New York on March 30, bringing this year’s advance to 14 percent, the most since the third quarter of 2010.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 11 percent this year through March 30, compared with a 12 percent advance by the S&P 500 and a 7.7 percent increase by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 1.4 times book value, compared with 2.3 times for the S&P 500 and 1.5 times for the Stoxx 600, according to Bloomberg data. A number below 1 means companies can be bought for less than value of their assets.

The Bank of Japan is scheduled to release its quarterly Tankan survey of business confidence at 8:50 a.m. today in Tokyo.

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