Asia Stocks Rise as IMF Outlook, Spain Debt Ease Concerns

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index headed for its biggest gain this month, after the International Monetary Fund raised global economic forecasts and Spain sold more debt than targeted, boosting the earnings outlook for exporters.

Toyota Motor Corp., Asia’s biggest carmaker by market value, gained 2.8 percent in Tokyo. OCI Co., a maker of materials used in solar panels, advanced 4.7 percent in Seoul on speculation oversupply in the industry may ease as companies consolidate and restructure. BHP Billiton Ltd. rose 2.8 percent in Sydney after commodity prices gained and the miner’s iron-ore production rose. CSR Corp., a Chinese trainmaker, increased 5.7 percent in Hong Kong after a report it won orders from Hong Kong.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.1 percent to 125.01 as of 5:34 p.m. in Tokyo, headed for its biggest gain since March 27. More than three stocks rose for each that fell. The IMF raised its 2012 global growth estimate to 3.5 percent from 3.3 percent, reflecting some stabilization of Europe’s debt crisis.

“The environment for equities is pretty good,” said Donald Williams, chief investment officer at Platypus Asset Management Ltd. in Sydney, which manages about $1 billion. “Even though 2012 is going to be a tough year because most of Europe will be in recession for a large part of this calendar year, you are still looking at a global growth rate of 3.5 percent, which is a pretty decent growth rate.”

Global Growth

The Asia-Pacific gauge advanced 8.6 percent this year through yesterday amid signs the U.S. economy is strengthening and central banks after eased monetary policies. Stocks in the Asian gauge, which includes companies from some emerging markets, are valued at 12.6 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.3 times for the S&P 500 and 10.8 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average increased 2.1 percent today, with trading volume 22 percent below the 30-day intraday average. Gains accelerated as Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Kiyohiko Nishimura said it’s ready for additional easing if necessary, fueling speculation that further loosening may be announced at the bank’s April 27 meeting.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index rose 1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 1.1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 2 percent.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The index advanced 1.6 percent in New York yesterday after the IMF raised its growth estimate. Shares also rose as Spain sold 3.18 billion euros ($4.18 billion) of bills, compared with a maximum target of 3 billion euros the Treasury set for the sale.

German Confidence

In Germany, investor confidence unexpectedly rose for a fifth month in April to the highest in almost two years, boosting European shares yesterday.

Toyota gained 2.8 percent to 3,330 yen in Tokyo, while HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest lender by market value, increased 1.9 percent to HK$68.35 in Hong Kong.

Oil and metal producers rose after the London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six industrial metals including copper and aluminum advanced 0.8 percent yesterday and crude oil for May delivery advanced 1.2 percent in New York.

Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil producer by market value, jumped 3.3 percent to HK$16.08 in Hong Kong. BHP advanced 2.8 percent to A$35.10 in Sydney after saying third-quarter iron ore production rose 14 percent from a year earlier.

Solar Glut Easing?

OCI increased 4.7 percent to 225,000 won in Seoul after Hyundai Securities Co. said oversupply in the solar industry may ease as companies restructure and consolidate. Thin-film panel maker First Solar Inc. yesterday said it will cut 30 percent of its workforce, mostly at factories that it’s closing.

SunPower Corp., a solar panel company, said it will close its first manufacturing plant and shift production to newer factories. Chinese oil producer China National Offshore Oil Co. may acquire Canadian Solar Inc., DigiTimes reported on April 16, citing China Business Media report.

CSR rose 5.7 percent to HK$5.92 in Hong Kong after Xinhua News Agency reported the Chinese company will supply high-speed trains to Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., a South Korean shipbuilder, advanced 6 percent to 31,800 won in Seoul. The shares rose on expectation demand for ships may increase after Cheniere Energy Inc. won federal approval to build the largest U.S. natural-gas export terminal, according to Um Kyung A, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co.

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