Japanese and Australian stock futures rose after an increase in the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits added to speculation that central banks will take further steps to spur economic growth.
American Depositary Receipts of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s second-largest lender, gained 1.5 percent as investors sought shares of companies with earnings tied to economic growth. Those of Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-biggest oil producer, climbed 0.8 percent as crude advanced. DeNA Co., Japan’s No. 1 social-gaming operator, may be active after saying it plans to spend as much as 20 billion yen ($252 million) to buy back as much as 10 percent of its outstanding shares.
Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September closed at 8,580 in Chicago yesterday, up from 8,570 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,590 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 rose 0.4 percent in Wellington. Today is the final day of trading before an election in Greece that may determine its future within the euro currency bloc.
Markets “believe that low inflation plus increasingly soft labor-market numbers equals another round of quantitative easing,” said Matthew Sherwood, Perpetual Investments’ head of investment markets research in Sydney. Perpetual manages about $23 billion. “Investors are on guard for the Greek election on June 17.”
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The gauge added 1.1 percent yesterday.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 12 percent from this year’s peak on Feb. 29 through yesterday amid concern growth in the U.S. and China is slowing and as Europe’s debt crisis intensified. The gauge has gained 1.4 percent this week amid speculation central banks and governments will move to stem the slowdown in global economic growth.
More Americans applied for jobless benefits and consumer prices dropped by the most in three years, giving the Federal Reserve room to spur an economy that’s generating little growth or inflation.
Bloomberg News reported that U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Bank of England Governor Mervyn King are preparing two programs to increase the flow of credit. Reuters said central banks of major economies are prepared to take action if needed to boost liquidity in financial markets if the June 17 Greek elections cause tumultuous trading, citing officials linked to the Group of 20 nations.
Polls show neither party in Greece is likely to gain enough votes to secure a parliamentary majority. Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras, has promised to annul terms of the Greek bailout proposed by the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, who supports the bailout conditions, said backing Syriza will effectively remove Greece from the euro.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.8 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 5.7 percent advance by the S&P 500 and a 1.1 percent drop on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Shares on the Asian benchmark are valued at 1.2 times book value, compared with 2.1 times for the S&P 500 and 1.3 times for the Stoxx 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A number below one means companies can be bought for less than value of their assets.
The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of raw materials climbed 1 percent yesterday.
Oil for July delivery gained 1.6 percent to settle at $83.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest increase since April 11, as OPEC members were asked to cut production that exceeds their current output ceiling.
The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese companies in the U.S. fell 0.5 percent to 90.02 in New York yesterday.