Australia Stock Futures Gain, Japan Little Changed on Fed

Australian stock futures gained after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed many policy makers favored more stimulus soon. Japanese index futures were little changed.

QR National Ltd., Australia’s largest coal-train operator, and Iluka Resources Ltd., the world’s biggest zircon producer, may be active after full-year profit topped estimates. Shares of Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s top carrier, may be active after reporting a larger-than-estimated loss of A$245 million.

Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.2 percent today. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average futures contracts were bid in the pre-market at 9,080 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. They closed at 9,075 in Chicago, compared with 9,110 in Osaka yesterday. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent in Wellington.

“U.S. policy makers are frustrated with the anemic pace of the recovery and this increased the odds that some form of additional Fed easing will be implemented at the central bank’s September meeting,” said Matthew Sherwood, Perpetual Investments’ head of investment markets research in Sydney. Perpetual manages about $23 billion. “Some form of quantitative easing is coming soonish.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The S&P 500 rose less than 0.1 percent yesterday, reversing a 0.5 percent drop after the Fed minutes were released in Washington.

More Stimulus

Many Fed policy makers said additional stimulus would probably be needed soon unless the economy shows signs of a durable pickup, according to the record of the Federal Open Market Committee’s July 31-Aug. 1 gathering.

Policy makers said after the meeting that they will step up record stimulus if needed to spur growth and cut a jobless rate stuck above 8 percent since February 2009. Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will have an opportunity to clarify his views in an Aug. 31 speech at a forum for central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he signaled a second round of bond buying by the Fed in 2010. Fed officials next meet on Sept. 12-13.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande meet today to discuss Europe’s fiscal crisis. Merkel signaled she’s willing to discuss Greece’s request for more time to meet the terms of its international rescue, leaving the door open to potential concessions.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rallied 11 percent through yesterday from this year’s lowest level on June 4 amid speculation global central banks will take action to stimulate growth. Stocks on the measure were valued at 12.5 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.7 for the S&P 500 and 11.7 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese companies in the U.S. advanced 0.4 percent to 90.08 yesterday.

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