Japan, Australia Stock Futures Rise on Bernanke Testimony

Japanese and Australian stock futures rose after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said U.S. policy makers are prepared to act to boost growth if the labor market doesn’t improve, buoying the earnings outlook for Asian exporters.

American depositary receipts of Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s third-largest carmaker by market value, rose 0.8 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Australia’s third-biggest lender, gained 0.7 percent. Chip-related shares such as Tokyo Electron Ltd. may be active after bellwether Intel Corp. reported a third-quarter sales forecast that missed some estimates.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September closed at 8,780 in Chicago yesterday compared with 8,750 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,780 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 0.1 percent in Wellington.

Bernanke “continued to indicate that the Fed would ease policy further if they thought that was necessary,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney-based head of investment market research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which oversees about $150 billion. There were “certainly no hints on when that action might be or what it might entail.”

Easing Tools

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell less than 0.1 percent today. The index climbed 0.7 percent in New York yesterday after a report showed the cost of living in the U.S. was little changed in June. Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee in Washington yesterday that easing tools include further purchases of assets, cutting the interest rate that the Fed pays on reserves banks keep with the Fed, and altering its communications on the outlook for interest rates.

The Bank of Japan is scheduled to release minutes of its June policy meeting at 8:50 a.m. today in Tokyo. The central bank maintained the size of its asset-purchase fund at the June meeting.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 2 percent this year through yesterday, compared with an 8.4 percent gain by the S&P 500 and a 4.7 percent advance by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 11.8 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.1 times for the S&P 500 and 10.8 times for the Stoxx 600.

Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor maker, said yesterday its revenue in the current period will be $14.3 billion, plus or minus $500 million. The average of estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg projected sales of $14.6 billion.

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