Asian Stocks Heading for Eight-Month High on U.S Data

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index headed for its highest close in eight months, after data on U.S. services and factory orders beat estimates.

Honda Motor Co., the Japanese carmaker that counts North America as its biggest market, gained 1.6 percent in Tokyo. Largan Precision Co., a supplier of camera lenses for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, jumped 7 percent in Taipei after reporting sales more than doubled last month. SC Global Developments Ltd. surged 50 percent in Singapore after Chief Executive Officer Simon Cheong offered to buy the rest of the property developer.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.4 percent to 125.7 as of 7:32 p.m. in Tokyo, heading for its highest close since April 3. About three shares rose for every two that fell on the gauge. The measure advanced last month amid signs of recovery in the world’s two largest economies and optimism U.S. lawmakers will agree on a budget deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

“The economic data looks OK and that’s been supporting the share market,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which has almost $100 billion under management. “Markets will have to see a resolution of the U.S. fiscal cliff for the rally to continue.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average increased 0.8 percent after the yen traded near a seven-month low, boosting the outlook for Japanese exporters. South Korea’s Kospi Index added 0.1 percent. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index gained 1.3 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.1 percent, while a gauge of Chinese companies listed in the city rose 0.3 percent after a jump of 2.9 percent yesterday. China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.1 percent after yesterday surging by the most in three months.

Australian Unemployment

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.2 percent, paring losses of as much as 0.3 percent, as the nation’s unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped in November. The joblessness fell to 5.2 percent from 5.4 percent in October, the statistics bureau said in Sydney today. That compares with the median estimate of 5.5 percent in a Bloomberg News survey of 27 economists.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.2 percent today. The gauge rose 0.2 percent yesterday as a few dozen Republicans joined a bipartisan call to break the impasse over taxes for the highest-earning Americans, signing a letter calling for exploration of “all options.”

President Barack Obama told a business group that lawmakers probably could solve the debate in about a week if Republicans move. A budget compromise would help avert the fiscal cliff, which could result in more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts taking effect next month.

U.S. Manufacturing

U.S. orders for equipment such as computers and electrical gear climbed in October by the most in eight months, indicating U.S. manufacturing is stabilizing heading into the looming fiscal cliff. Service industries in the U.S. unexpectedly grew at a faster pace in November.

Exporters advanced. Honda climbed 1.6 percent to 2,747 yen in Tokyo. Sony Corp., the market of Bravia televisions and PlayStation game consoles, jumped 3.4 percent to 816 yen. Li & Fung Ltd., a supplier of toys and clothes to retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., rose 1.9 percent to HK$12.92 in Hong Kong.

Canon Inc., the world’s biggest camera maker, advanced 2.6 percent to 3,000 yen in Tokyo after the Wall Street Journal reported the company plans to triple China sales.

Sharp Rallies

Sharp Corp., Japan’s biggest maker of liquid-crystal displays, surged 9.9 percent to 199 yen, the most since Sept. 4. The company will outsource production of residential solar panels to SunPower Corp. of the U.S., the Yomiuri newspaper said today without citing anyone.

Largan Precision climbed 7 percent to NT$856 in Taipei. Sales in November increased to NT$2.8 billion ($96.2 million) from NT$1.2 billion, the company said yesterday.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 15 percent through yesterday from this year’s low on June 4 as central banks added stimulus to spur economic growth. The benchmark index traded at 14.1 times estimated earnings, compared with 13.6 times for the S&P 500 Index and 12.5 times for the Stoxx Europe 600.

Raw material producers advanced after the London Metals Exchange Index of base metals, including copper and aluminum, rose 0.4 percent yesterday. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest mining company, added 1 percent to A$59.92 in Sydney. United Co. Rusal, the largest aluminum producer, climbed 2.1 percent to HK$4.84 in Hong Kong.

Vehicle Recall

SC Global surged 50 percent to S$1.805, headed for the highest close since April 2010. Cheong, who already owns 55 percent of the company, offered to buy the rest of the company at S$1.80 apiece and take it private. The bid values the developer at S$745 million ($611 million).

Among stocks that fell, Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. sank 3.9 percent to HK$3.67 in Hong Kong after the Chinese carmaker recalled some vehicle models in Australia after engines were found to contain asbestos fibre.

LG Electronics Inc. slid 1.5 percent to 74,000 won in Seoul after South Korea’s second-largest electronics maker was fined by the European Union over price-fixing deals on now-obsolete cathode-ray tubes used in televisions and computer monitors.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE