Japan Stock Futures Little Changed on ECB Stimulus Hopes

Japanese and Australian stock futures were little changed as Germany’s Bundesbank stepped up its criticism of the European Central Bank’s bond-buying program, tempering investors’ hopes for more stimulus.

American Depositary Receipts of Canon Inc., a camera maker that gets a third of sales in Europe, slid 0.3 percent from the closing price in Tokyo. Amcor Ltd., the world’s No. 1 packaging company by market value, may fall in Sydney after profit missed estimates. Hitachi Ltd., a Japanese electronics manufacturer that counts Apple Inc. among its suppliers, may be active after the iPhone maker set a U.S. record for market value.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring next month closed at 9,190 in Chicago yesterday, up from 9,170 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 9,190 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced less than 0.1 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index retreated 0.1 percent in Wellington.

“There are reasons to believe that in the near term global equities do need a pause to consolidate recent gains,” said Michael Kurtz, Hong Kong-based chief global equity strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest brokerage. “It is difficult to identify immediate clear and decisive additional upside catalysts.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index surged 11 percent from this year’s lowest level on June 4 through yesterday amid speculation central banks from Europe to China will increase measures to boost economic growth. Still, the Asian regional benchmark, which includes companies from emerging countries, retreated 6.4 percent from a Feb. 29 high through yesterday as China’s economic expansion slowed and Europe’s debt crisis deepened.

‘Significant Risks’

Government bond purchases “entail significant stability risks,” the Bundesbank said in its monthly report yesterday. The ECB’s governing council may decide at its next gathering to set yield limits on each country’s debt, Germany’s Spiegel magazine reported Aug. 19, without saying where it got the information.

The ECB said the council has not discussed any plan to target the bond yields and that “it is absolutely misleading to report on decisions,” a bank spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The underlying gauge yesterday closed little changed at 1,418.13, finishing within one point of its four-year high reached in April. Trading volume and volatility have dropped this month as traders await policy clues from the Federal Reserve’s summit at the end of the month and an ECB meeting in September.

Fed Minutes

The Federal Reserve will on Aug. 22 release minutes from the Aug. 1 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, when policy makers declined to initiate a third round of monetary stimulus, a policy known as quantitative easing.

Stocks on the Asian measure were valued at 12.6 times estimated earnings on average yesterday, compared with 13.7 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 11.7 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Chinese equities fell in New York after an increase in home prices in July spurred concern the central bank will avoid easing monetary policy. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese companies in the U.S. declined 0.6 percent to 90.63 yesterday, a two-week low.

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