Japan Futures, Australian Stocks Climb as U.S. Voting Continues

Japanese stock futures and Australian equities climbed as investors awaited the U.S. presidential election results.

News Corp., the media company run by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, gained 3.4 percent in Sydney after reporting profit that topped analysts’ estimates. BHP Billiton Ltd., the largest global mining company, advanced 0.3 percent in Sydney as metals prices rose. American Depositary Receipts of Komatsu Ltd., the world’s second-biggest maker of construction and mining equipment, jumped 1.4 percent from yesterday’s closing price in Tokyo.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in December closed at 9,045 in Chicago yesterday, up from 8,980 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 9,050 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.2 percent today and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.2 percent in Wellington.

“Investors will be solely focused on news-wires and the U.S. vote count,” said Matthew Sherwood, Perpetual Investment’s head of investment markets research in Sydney. Perpetual manages about $25 billion. “Let’s just hope for a conclusive vote today.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The gauge climbed 0.8 percent yesterday. U.S. voters went to the polls to decide between giving President Barack Obama another four years to lead the world’s largest economy or replacing him with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The next president will need to address a so-called fiscal cliff of more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that take effect in 2013 unless Congress can reach a budget compromise.

Relative Value

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 12 percent through yesterday from this year’s low on June 4 as central banks added stimulus amid a slowdown in global economic growth and the European debt crisis. Shares on the measure traded at 13.4 times average estimated earnings, compared with 13.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

China’s Communist Party starts its 18th Congress in Beijing tomorrow, when delegates will meet over several days to pick a new leader. Xi Jinping will probably replace Hu Jintao as general secretary of the party that’s ruled China since 1949.

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. rose 0.5 percent to 95.71 in New York yesterday.

The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of raw materials climbed 1.7 percent yesterday, its biggest advance in three months.

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