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Asia Stocks Rise After China Premier Says Growth Is Focus

Asian stocks rose, with the regional index rebounding from its biggest drop in six months, after Premier Wen Jiabao said China will focus more on bolstering economic growth.

China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd., a developer controlled by the nation’s construction ministry, rose 1.8 percent in Hong Kong. BHP Billiton Ltd. advanced 2 percent in Sydney after RBC Capital Markets said the world’s largest mining company may buyback shares. Nintendo Co., a manufacturer of gaming consoles that gets a third of its sales in Europe, fell 1.4 percent in Osaka. OCI Co., a chemicals maker, slumped 4.4 percent in Seoul after delaying expansion plans because of Europe’s debt crisis.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2 percent to 112.78 as of 7:30 p.m. in Tokyo. The gauge fell 2.5 percent on May 18, the most since Nov. 10, wiping out this year’s gains as Europe’s crisis worsened and U.S. economic data missed estimates.

Wen’s pledge on Chinese growth “will be a support for the market when we see clear signs of it,” said Shintaro Takeuchi, portfolio investment group manager at Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. that manages $109 billion in assets. “Stocks are becoming cheaper and fewer people are selling them, but they’re not cheap enough to buy either.”

Gains were limited before German and French leaders meet today to discuss the euro after the Group of Eight nations exposed disagreement on a rescue strategy.

Yearly Drop

The Asian gauge dropped 1.1 percent this year through last week compared with a 3 percent gain by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and a 2.3 percent loss by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 11.5 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.3 times for the S&P 500 and 10 times for the Stoxx 600.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 0.3 percent today before the Bank of Japan begins a two-day meeting tomorrow. The broader Topix Index slid 0.1 percent after a drop last week that capped the longest streak of weekly losses since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.7 percent, its first increase in five days, while South Korea’s Kospi Index rose 0.9 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 0.2 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies advanced 0.1 percent, after last week falling as much as 21 percent from its high for the year on Feb. 29. China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent.

Wen said China will focus more on bolstering economic growth, indicating policies may be loosened further as inflation moderates.

China Investment

“We should continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy, while giving more priority to maintaining growth,” Wen said during a tour of Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, from Friday to Sunday.

China’s foreign-exchange regulator has approved $26 billion in quotas for 138 qualified investors looking to buy into its domestic securities as of May 16, according to a statement posted on the State Administration of Foreign Exchange yesterday.

China Overseas Land rose 1.8 percent to HK$15.06 in Hong Kong. CSR Corp., a Chinese train maker, jumped 6.8 percent to HK$5.79, leading its peers higher after the 21st Century Business Herald reported the railway ministry has been granted a credit line of more than 2 trillion yuan ($316 billion), signaling transport projects may resume.

U.S. Futures Rise

Fanuc Corp., a maker of industrial robots that gets almost half its revenue from Asia outside Japan, rose 1.5 percent to 13,050 yen in Tokyo. The company will expand its production capacity for equipment to control machine tools by 30 percent, the Nikkei newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.6 percent today after the index slid 0.7 percent in New York on May 18.

Leaders of G-8 nations who met at Camp David over the weekend pushed for Greece to stay in the euro area and supported boosting growth, even as Germany said Europe can’t spend its way out of the debt crisis. They concurred at U.S. President Barack Obama’s retreat outside Washington “that the right measures are not the same for each of us.”

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will for the first time discuss the 17-nation currency at a meeting with his newly installed French counterpart, Pierre Moscovici, in Berlin today as European Union leaders prepare for a summit meeting in Brussels on May 23.

BHP Buyback

Nintendo slid 1.4 percent to 9,230 yen in Osaka, while HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank by market value, declined 1 percent to HK$63.10 in Hong Kong.

BHP rose 2 percent to A$32.10 in Sydney, the second-biggest contributor to the MSCI Asia Pacific Index’s advance. The miner may start a new share buyback after last week trimming an $80 billion spending plan over five years, RBC Capital Markets said in a report dated May 18.

Regional lender Hokuhoku Financial Group Inc. jumped 6.1 percent to 122 yen in Tokyo after saying it will buy back as much as 2.15 percent of its outstanding stock.

Renesas Electronics Corp., a maker of microcontrollers used in cars, slumped 10 percent to 269 yen, its lowest close on record, after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. lowered its rating on the stock, citing a slow earnings recovery.

OCI slumped 4.4 percent to 194,000 won after the Seoul-based solar-cell company announced it is scrapping plans to build two polysilicon factories at home because Europe’s worsening fiscal crisis is affecting the volatility of the solar-power industry.

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