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Australia Stock Futures Rise on U.S. Home Prices; Nikkei Flat

Australian stock futures gained after U.S. home prices in April fell at the slowest pace in more than a year. Nikkei futures were unchanged.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-largest oil and gas company, added 0.1 percent after crude prices increased. American depositary receipts of Canon Inc., which depends on Europe for almost a third of its sales, lost 1.7 percent from its Tokyo close. Shares of Lawson Inc. may be active on a report the convenience store may post a record first-quarter operating profit. ADRs of Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s biggest commodities trader by revenue, rose 0.8 percent.

Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.4 percent in Wellington. Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September closed at 8,690 in Chicago yesterday, unchanged from in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,690 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time.

“Investors find it difficult to take positions,” said Koichi Kurose, chief economist in Tokyo at Resona Bank Ltd., which oversees about $75 billion. “The U.S. is overcoming its structural problems of deteriorating home markets, while signs to improve debt crises aren’t seen in Europe.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. The index added 0.5 percent in New York yesterday as the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities dropped 1.9 percent in April from the same month in 2011, the smallest decline since November 2010, after decreasing 2.6 percent in the year ended March.

In Europe, yields at auctions in Italy and Spain surged ahead of a European Union summit on June 28. Italian notes had the biggest two-day drop in seven months, and Spanish securities slid, after borrowing costs rose at debt sales.

Japan Sales Tax

In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s biggest step yet toward winning a sales tax increase aimed at reining in the nation’s public debt came at the cost of alienating one-fifth of his party’s lower house lawmakers.

While the chamber yesterday approved legislation to double the 5 percent levy by October 2015, 57 lawmakers in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan voted no, and former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa signaled he may leave. If he takes more than 50 followers with him, it could endanger the party’s majority.

Crude oil for July delivery rose 0.2 percent to settle at $79.36 a barrel yesterday in New York. Brent oil for August climbed 2.2 percent to $93.02 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index of the most-traded Chinese equities in the U.S rose 1.2 percent to 89 in New York yesterday after the nation’s Commerce Ministry said trade growth is improving this month, boosting the outlook for equities the world’s second-largest economy.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.5 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 5 percent advance by the S&P 500 and a 0.8 percent drop by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 11.5 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.7 times for the S&P 500 and 10.2 times for the Stoxx 600.

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