Asian stocks rose, all but erasing the regional benchmark index’s first weekly decline in three weeks, as the debut of Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 boosted technology shares and energy companies advanced on higher crude prices.
Samsung Electronics Co., which gets 9 percent of its sales from Apple, gained 1.2 percent in Seoul as the latest iPhone went on sale. Inpex Corp., Japan’s No.1 energy explorer, advanced 2 percent as crude rebounded from a 7.2 percent drop in the past four days. GrainCorp Ltd. rose 1.2 percent as JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised buying shares of eastern Australia’s largest grain handler.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.8 percent to 123.56 as of 5:16 p.m. in Tokyo, paring to less than 0.1 percent this week’s drop. It fell yesterday by the most in two months as economic data in Japan and China disappointed investors and on expectations of a disappointing U.S. unemployment report.
“When you have catalysts such as the iPhone 5 coming out, that certainly helps prop things up” in the technology sector, Timothy Moe, a Hong-Kong-based strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., told Bloomberg TV. “The market has lagged” in Asia. “Our outlook is one of tempered optimism. It’s right to pay attention to what’s happened in the policy actions in the U.S. and Europe, but growth is not as good as one would have liked, so we need to be a bit more sober in our expectations.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific index has climbed 8.4 percent this year as central banks in Europe, the U.S. and Japan took action to stimulate economic growth. That compares with a 16 percent increase on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index through yesterday and a 12 percent gain on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. The Asian benchmark traded at 12.7 times estimated earnings compared with 14.1 for the S&P 500 and 12.1 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Futures on the S&P 500 advanced 0.2 percent today. The gauge slid yesterday for the third time in four days as data from in the U.S., China, Europe and Japan increased concern that a global economic slowdown is worsening. A report showed more Americans than forecast filed unemployment claims last week.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index both rose 0.3 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex increased 0.4 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times advanced 0.5 percent.
South Korea’s Kospi Index added 0.6 percent, led by Samsung, which accounts for 17 percent of the index by weighting. Apple is poised for a record iPhone 5 debut and may not be able to keep up with demand as customers lined up in Sydney, Tokyo and New York to pick up the latest model of its top-selling product. Samsung gained 1.2 percent to 1.3 million won.
The International Monetary Fund will cut economic forecasts for the global economy “by a few decimal points,” a fund official said yesterday. The most recent IMF forecast, released in July, projected 2012 global growth of 3.5 percent. The fund cut its estimate for next year to 3.9 percent, from an April forecast of 4.1 percent.
“The global economy has weakened, we are shaving off our forecast for global growth by a few decimal points,” Khor Hoe Ee, an assistant director in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, said on a conference call with reporters. At the same time, “we expect the global economy to recover gradually over the next year.”
Inpex gained 2 percent to 488,500 yen. Cnooc Ltd., China’s largest offshore energy explorer, increased 0.6 percent to HK$15.74. Oil rose in New York, rebounding from a four-day drop, as investors speculated that the biggest weekly decline in more than three months was exaggerated.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.7 percent and the Shanghai Composite gained 0.1 percent. China’s economic slowdown is part of government policy and the country has the tools to avert a severe downturn, Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said in a speech today.
Graincorp advanced 1.2 percent to A$8.82 in Sydney as JPMorgan advised buying the shares, citing the stock’s 11 percent slump in the past month. “The reduction in the share price is overdone,” Stuart Jackson, a Sydney-based analyst at JPMorgan, wrote in a report today.
Sharp Corp. jumped 5 percent to 212 yen on a Mainichi newspaper report that Japan’s largest maker of liquid-crystal displays is in investment talks with Intel Corp. for a possible capital tie-up. “There is no truth to the report,” Heihachiro Ochiai, a Sharp spokesman in Osaka, said by phone today.
Among declining shares, Banpu Pcl lost 8.6 percent to 404 baht after the Thai Civil Court ordered Thailand’s biggest coal producer to pay 31.7 billion baht ($1 billion) as compensation to its partner in a power project in Laos.