Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index gaining for a second day, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said he’s prepared to do more to stimulate U.S. growth if needed.
Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea’s biggest consumer electronics maker, climbed 2.7 percent. Hitachi Chemical Co. jumped 6.7 percent in Tokyo on a rating boost by Credit Suisse Group AG after the semiconductor materials supplier forecast higher earnings. Fanuc Ltd. sank 6.1 percent after the maker of factory robots said operating profit will fall.
“The Federal Reserve didn’t rule out the possibility of additional monetary easing,” said Mitsushige Akino, who oversees about $600 million in Tokyo at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. “That’s leading to confidence among investors.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.6 percent to 124.33 as of 6:58 p.m. in Tokyo, with almost three shares rising for every two that fell. Trading volumes in Japan and Hong Kong were at least 22 percent lower than the 30-day average, while those in Shanghai were about 23 percent higher, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Asian stocks extended a global rally spurred by better-than-estimated earnings at companies from Boeing Co. to Corning Inc.
South Korea’s Kospi Index gained 0.1 percent after the economy expanded at the fastest pace in a year. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.3 percent as it resumed trading after yesterday’s holiday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 0.8 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1 percent, reversing gains of as much as 0.3 percent.
Potential for Gridlock
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average closed little changed, erasing gains of as much as 0.7 percent, after ruling party power broker Ichiro Ozawa was found not guilty of violating campaign finance laws, raising concern this will embolden him to oppose Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s plan to raise the consumption tax.
“Foreign investors are looking at this and thinking, ‘this will mean more chaos in government and less progress in the debate on taxes,’” said Yoshihiro Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities Co.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell less than 0.1 percent today. The gauge gained 1.4 percent in New York yesterday as Bernanke said the Fed stands ready to add to its stimulus if necessary even after leaving its policy unchanged and upgrading its view of the U.S. economy for this year.
Asian exporters advanced after Fed policy makers said they expect growth will gradually accelerate, while refraining from new action to lower borrowing costs. Central bankers upgraded their forecasts for economic growth and unemployment while repeating their view that borrowing costs are likely to remain “exceptionally low” at least through late 2014.
Samsung climbed 2.7 percent to 1.34 million won in Seoul. James Hardie Industries SE, a building materials supplier that gets about 68 percent of sales from the U.S., gained 1.1 percent to A$7.38 in Sydney. Techtronic Industries Co., the maker of Ryobi power tools that counts North America as its largest market, rose 2 percent to HK$9.63 in Hong Kong.
Hitachi Chemical advanced 6.7 percent to 1,514 yen in Tokyo. Credit Suisse raised its rating to buy from neutral, saying the company is benefiting from rising demand for raw materials needed to make touch screens for smartphones and tablets. The company said yesterday it expects operating profit in the year ending March 2013 to increase 47 percent.
China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd., the nation’s second-largest mobile-phone company, jumped 4 percent to HK$13.54 after reporting first-quarter net income rose to 1 billion yuan ($159 million) from a restated 145 million yuan a year earlier.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 9.2 percent this year, compared with a 10.6 percent advance by the S&P 500 and a 4.8 percent increase by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.7 times estimated earnings on average, compared with a multiple of 13.3 for the S&P 500 and 10.7 times for the Stoxx 600.
Of the 154 companies on the regional benchmark index that reported quarterly profits since April 10, 79 exceeded analysts estimates, while 56 fell short, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
Among stocks that fell, Fanuc declined 6.1 percent to 13,900 yen after predicting its first-half operating profit may drop 3.1 percent. BYD Co., the Chinese carmaker partly owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., sank 5 percent to HK$20.05 in Hong Kong after saying net income in the six months ending June may slump as much as 95 percent.
Sands China Ltd., the Asian unit of billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas gaming company, fell 2.4 percent to HK$31.05 after posting first-quarter earnings that missed market expectations.