Japan, Australian Stock Futures Gain on Italy Debt Sale

Japanese and Australian stock futures edged higher after demand increased at an Italian debt sale and the euro strengthened, boosting the earnings outlook for Asian exporters. The gains were limited as commodities declined amid concern about slowing Chinese economic growth.

American depositary receipts of Sony Corp., a Japanese consumer electronics exporter that gets a fifth of its sales in Europe, rose 0.8 percent from the closing price in Tokyo. Those of Komatsu Ltd., a construction machinery maker that gets 14 percent of its sales from China, slid 0.3 percent after Bank of America Corp. cut its outlook for Chinese growth. ADRs of Alumina Ltd., an Australian alumina maker, slid 0.7 percent after metal prices dropped.

Futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September closed at 8,885 in Chicago yesterday, up from 8,870 in Osaka. They were bid in pre-market trading at 8,870 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index futures added 0.2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 0.1 percent in Wellington.

“Many investors are on vacation, and the markets are likely to be in a wait-and-see mood,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, a strategist at Tokyo-based SMBC Friend Securities Co. “The markets won’t move largely under these conditions. There’s concern the global economy is slowing, while some people may want to buy cheap shares.”

Trading volume on Japan’s Topix Index yesterday was at its lowest level this year as the country started its week-long O-bon festival.

Italian Debt

In Europe, Italy was able to sell all the debt it planned at an auction of bills, easing concern the European debt crisis is worsening.

The euro gained after Italy’s debt sale damped concern nations in the currency bloc won’t be able to access the debt markets. The 17-nation currency strengthened to as much as 96.91 yen last night in Tokyo, compared with 96.17 at the close of stock trading yesterday, boosting the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.1 percent today. The gauge slid 0.1 percent yesterday after commodities declined amid concern about slowing Asian growth. It was the first decline in seven days, ending the longest streak of gains in 20 months.

Bank of America cut its 2012 economic growth forecast for China to 7.7 percent from 8 percent, according to a report yesterday from Ting Lu, an economist based in Hong Kong. China’s economy will slow “considerably,” said Marc Faber, the publisher of the Gloom Boom & Doom report, who is buying European stocks.

Metal Prices

The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six industrial metals including copper and aluminum yesterday declined 1.2 percent, the biggest drop since Aug. 2. Crude oil for September delivery lost 0.2 percent to $92.73 a barrel in New York, falling for a second day.

Most Chinese equities traded in New York fell yesterday, after posting their best week of 2012, on speculation policy makers will refrain from taking further steps to spur growth. The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index of the most-traded Chinese equities in the U.S was unchanged at 91.93 as 28 companies on the gauge declined while 22 rose.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 6.9 percent from this year’s high on Feb. 29 through yesterday amid concern Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis will worsen and China’s economy is slowing. The regional benchmark index traded at 12.4 times estimated earnings compared with 13.6 times for the S&P 500 Index and a multiple of 11.6 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Of the 1,008 companies listed on the Asian benchmark gauge, about 140 firms are scheduled to post earnings this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Of the 403 companies to have reported since July 1 for which Bloomberg has estimates, about 43 percent have beaten expectations.

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