Japanese Stock Futures Climb Amid Stimulus Speculation

Japanese and Australian stock futures rose as investors speculated central banks may announce more stimulus measures to boost growth in the world’s largest economies.

American Depositary Receipts of Kyocera Corp., a Japanese electronics maker that gets 14 percent of its sales in the U.S., climbed 1.1 percent. ADRs of BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, gained 1.2 percent as metals prices rose. Tokio Marine Holdings Inc., Japan’s second-biggest nonlife insurer, may be active after saying it plans to reduce its cross-shareholdings by 100 billion yen ($1.27 billion) this fiscal year.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September closed at 8,695 in Chicago yesterday, up from 8,650 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,700 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 was little changed in Wellington.

“There will be more measures taken by central banks to stimulate the economy,” said Daphne Roth, Singapore-based head of Asian equity research at ABN Amro Private Banking, where she helps oversee about $207 billion. “China also has more flexibility to ease monetary and fiscal policy.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.1 percent today. The gauge advanced 1 percent yesterday and closed at its highest level in more than a month as analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Jefferies & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. speculated the Federal Reserve will move to spur growth.

Operation Twist

Signs of slowing growth amid Europe’s debt crisis could mean the Fed, which began a two-day meeting yesterday, will extend its so-called Operation Twist, according to JPMorgan and Jefferies. The program involves selling short-term debt and buying longer-term bonds. A more aggressive response could be warranted if the Fed sees high costs in an economic slowdown.

The central bank may expand its balance sheet, extend Operation Twist and/or lengthen its short-term interest rate guidance beyond late 2014, Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius wrote yesterday.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific lost 10 percent through yesterday from this year’s highest level in February amid signs economic growth was slowing as Europe struggled to contain its debt crisis. This left the gauge trading at 1.1 times book value, compared with 2.1 times for the S&P 500 and 1.4 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 1.3 percent yesterday, its biggest gain since February.

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese companies in New York jumped 1.8 percent yesterday to 94.09, the highest level since May 16.