Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index headed for its highest close in a month, after China’s economic growth matched economists’ estimates and U.S. housing starts jumped.
China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. rose 2.1 percent in Hong Kong, pacing gains among mainland developers. James Hardie Industries SE, a building-materials supplier that gets 67 percent of sales from the U.S., gained 1.7 percent in Sydney. Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-biggest oil producer, advanced 2.4 percent after boosting its output forecast.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.8 percent to 123.95 as of 7:39 p.m. in Tokyo, headed for the highest close since Sept. 19. More than two stocks advanced for each that fell on the measure, with nine of 10 industry groups on the gauge rising. China’s Communist Party will nominate new leaders at its congress starting Nov. 8 in a once-a-decade leadership change.
China’s economy “is already bottoming and there are signs of stabilization coming up,” said Banny Lam, a Hong Kong-based economist at CCB International Securities Ltd. “Investors should be positive with what we have right now and will gain more confidence from the 18th congress results.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rebounded about 13 percent through yesterday from this year’s low on June 4 as stimulus measures in Europe, the U.S., Japan and China boosted market sentiment amid a global economic slowdown and Europe’s debt crisis. The Asian benchmark traded at 13 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.9 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 2 percent, capping the biggest three-day gain since March, after the economy minister yesterday called for stronger stimulus from the Bank of Japan, which convenes at the end of the month.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.7 percent. About 12 stocks on the national bourse, including Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., surged at the open without company news, prompting inquiries by the market regulator.
New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 0.9 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi Index gained 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5 percent, and China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.2 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.5 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index was little changed.
China’s gross domestic product expanded 7.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the government reported today, matching the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The government also reported data for industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment.
Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday China’s economic situation last quarter was “relatively good,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported, signaling that the nation’s slowdown is bottoming.
China Overseas Land added 2.1 percent to HK$20.35. Shimao Property Holdings Ltd., which develops real estate projects in China, rose 2 percent to HK$14.24. Hitachi Construction Machinery Co, which gets 17 percent of its sales in China, added 3.7 percent to 1,368 yen in Tokyo.
Futures on the S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent today. The gauge advanced 0.4 percent yesterday on a report that September housing starts surged to the highest in four years, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of so-called the Black Monday market crash, the biggest single-day equity decline in history.
“I don’t see much of a downside risk for stocks because we don’t see the U.S. situation deteriorating,” said Masahiko Ejiri, a Tokyo-based senior fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co., which oversees about 3.6 trillion yen ($45 billion). “A long-awaited recovery in U.S. housing seems to be holding up, as good numbers have come out over the last few months.”
Exporters to the U.S. advanced. James Hardie added 1.7 percent to A$9.26. Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co., which depends on North America for 44 percent of its sales, rose 4 percent to 2,557 yen.
Woodside advanced 2.4 percent to A$35.20 after raising its annual output forecast, citing a stronger-than-expected start at its Pluto liquefied natural gas project.
Yaskawa Electric Corp. jumped 6.7 percent to 592 yen in Tokyo, its biggest gain in five months. The servomotor producer’s rating was raised to buy from reduce at BNP Paribas S.A., which cited a bottoming out of orders. The investment bank also lifted the company’s price target 67 percent to 700 yen.
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