Most Asian stocks gained as reports from the U.S., China and Japan showing slower growth in the world’s biggest economies stoked speculation central banks will add to stimulus measures.
Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-biggest mining company, rose 4.4 percent in Sydney as copper gained for a second day. Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Co., China’s No. 2 maker of construction equipment, jumped 6.1 percent in Hong Kong after Chinese President Hu Jintao urged Asian governments to speed up infrastructure development. Tokyo Electron Ltd., a maker of chip production equipment, fell 3.3 percent in Tokyo after customer Intel Corp. cut its sales forecast.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained less than 0.1 percent to 119.18 as of 7:03 p.m. in Tokyo, erasing losses of as much as 0.2 percent. About five shares rose for every four that fell on the measure. The regional benchmark gauge posted its biggest gain this year on Sept. 7 after the European Central Bank unveiled a bond-buying program and China boosted stimulus measures.
“Following a weak U.S. jobs report, the backdrop is ideal to act this week and deliver more quantitative easing,” said George Boubouras, Melbourne-based head of investment strategy at UBS AG’s Australian wealth management unit. The Swiss bank has about $1.5 trillion in assets under management. “This week is looking like the last window for the Federal Reserve to act,” before the U.S. election.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3 percent. The country’s industrial output grew at the slowest pace in three years and imports unexpectedly dropped, signaling officials may need to add further to stimulus after approving subway and road projects. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.1 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.2 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index climbed 0.8 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index slid 0.3 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average was little changed. The nation’s economy expanded in the second quarter at half the pace the government initially estimated, underscoring the risk of a contraction as Europe’s debt crisis caps exports.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2 percent today. The gauge gained 0.4 percent on Sept. 7 amid bets the Federal Reserve will add to stimulus measures after a report showed American payrolls increased less than projected last month. The Fed will hold its policy meeting Sept. 12-13.
Raw-material producers posted the biggest advance among the 10 industry groups in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. Copper climbed to a 17-week high, while iron-ore prices gained by most since December. Oil traded near the highest level in a week.
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., Australia’s No. 3 iron-ore supplier, jumped 7.3 percent to A$3.55. Rio Tinto climbed 4.4 percent to A$54.70 in Sydney. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, added 1.5 percent to A$32.46. Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer of the metal, rose 1.9 percent to HK$18.16 in Hong Kong.
China’s construction-related companies rallied. Speaking to business executives at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vladivostok on Sept. 8, President Hu said China’s small and medium-sized enterprises are having a “hard time” and exporters are facing more difficulties. The government has an “arduous task of creating jobs for new entrants to the labor force.”
Zoomlion jumped 6.1 percent to HK$9.03 in Hong Kong. Sany Heavy Equipment International Holdings Co. climbed 3.4 percent to HK$4.25. Anhui Conch Cement Co., China’s biggest cement maker, gained 3.3 percent to HK$22.10.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 7.7 percent from this year’s high in February through last week on signs of a deepening global economic slowdown. The Asian benchmark traded at 12.4 times estimated earnings, compared with 13.9 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Suppliers of Intel were among stocks that dropped as the world’s biggest semiconductor maker slashed its third-quarter sales forecast amid declining demand for personal computers.
Tokyo Electron slipped 3.3 percent to 3,625 yen. Nikon Corp., a Japanese maker of cameras and supplier of chip-making equipment, fell 2.9 percent to 2,096 yen.
Lend Lease Group, Australia’s biggest developer, sank 6.6 percent to A$7.88 in Sydney after disclosing discrepancies in two projects.