Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Asia’s benchmark stock index rose to the highest level in 18 months as U.S. payrolls expanded and China services industries grew at the fastest pace since August, adding to optimism in the global economic recovery.
Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest mining company, advanced 1.2 percent in Sydney, leading gains among companies with earnings closely tied to economic growth. Sony Corp., trying to reverse a two-year decline in PlayStation sales, surged 7.5 percent in Tokyo amid speculation the firm is prepping a new version of the home console. Panasonic Corp., Japan’s second-largest TV maker, soared 17 percent after reporting an unexpected third-quarter profit.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.5 percent to 133.4 as of 7:24 p.m. in Tokyo, with five stocks advancing for every four that fell. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.6 percent after capping a 12-week winning streak on Feb. 1., the longest run of weekly gain since 1959, according to Nikkei Inc.
“Economic news was universally good,” said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research at Perpetual Investment, which manages about $25 billion in Sydney. “Corporate leaders are becoming more confident about the growth outlook. Investors are starting to feel the same way, even though questions remain about the strength of corporate earnings growth.”
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.2 percent with volume about 76 percent higher than normal for the time of day as HSBC Holdings Plc’s $7.4 billion sale of its stake in Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. to Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont was cleared by regulators. Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.2 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index gained 0.9 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.3 percent with trading volume 9.1 percent below average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. South Korea’s Kospi Index lost 0.1 percent with 26 percent fewer shares changing, the data show. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures were little changed.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 jumped 1 percent on the final trading day of last week after U.S. payrolls rose 157,000 in January following a revised 196,000 advance in December and a 247,000 surge in November. The gains indicated the labor market was making progress even as lawmakers quarreled over the federal budget. Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent today.
China’s services industries grew at the fastest pace since August as gains in retailing and construction aid government efforts to drive a recovery in the world’s second-biggest economy. The non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 56.2 in January from 56.1 in December, the Beijing-based National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing said in a statement yesterday.
Rio Tinto advanced 1.2 percent to A$67.99. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. gained 5.5 percent to 1,528 yen in Tokyo. Raw-material shares posted the largest gains among 10 industry groups on the MSCI Asia Pacific index, after consumer discretionary companies.
Sony surged 7.5 percent to 1,457 yen. Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said he is 100 percent certain that Sony will announce the PlayStation 4 at a Feb. 20 event, citing his checks with game developers and retailers. Dan Race, a Sony spokesman, didn’t respond to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Panasonic rose 17 percent to 692 yen. The TV, electronics and home appliances maker improved earnings in the third quarter as the yen’s plunge boosted the value of overseas sales.
MISC Bhd gained 17 percent to 5.21 ringgit in Kuala Lumpur as Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state-owned energy company, offered to buy out the shipping liner in a deal worth 8.7 billion ringgit ($2.8 billion).
Ping An slid 2.8 percent to HK$68.90 as regulators cleared HSBC’s sale of its stake in China’s second-biggest insurer and Europe’s largest bank said it expects to complete the transfer on Feb. 6. The transaction will generate a $2.6 billion profit for HSBC, bolstering Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver’s efforts to improve profitability hurt by U.S. probes of alleged money laundering and compensation claims from U.K. clients.
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