Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index heading for its biggest weekly advance in two months. Japanese shares rallied after a drop in consumer prices stoked speculation the Bank of Japan will add to monetary easing to beat deflation.
Mitsubishi Estate Co. jumped 6.1 percent, pacing gains among Japanese developers. Sony Corp., the maker of Bravia televisions and PlayStation game consoles, rose 3.9 percent after selling a building in Tokyo for 111.1 billion yen ($1.2 billion). Golden Agri-Resources Ltd. dropped 3.1 percent in Singapore after the world’s second-largest palm-oil producer reported fourth-quarter profit declined 93 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1 percent to 135.22 as of 6:12 p.m. in Tokyo, reversing losses of as much as as 0.4 percent. About four shares fell for every three that rose on the gauge. The measure yesterday capped a four-month advance, the longest winning streak since September 2009, amid signs of economic recovery in the U.S. and Chinese and on bets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will step up efforts to boost the world’s third-largest economy.
“Deflation is so entrenched and that’s why expectations are high for the BOJ,” said Isao Kubo, Tokyo-based equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management Corp., which oversees about $54 billion. “They have to make bold moves to revive the economy if they really want to see inflation.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is heading for a 1.2 percent advance this week, set for its biggest weekly gain since Jan. 4, as better-than-expected U.S. home sales and durable goods orders added to signs the world’s biggest economy is recovering, overshadowing concern a divided Italian parliament may reignite Europe’s debt crisis.
Shares on Asian benchmark index traded at 14.9 times estimated earnings compared with 13.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.4 percent. The nation’s consumer prices fell for a third month in January as deflation lingers, stoking speculation the BOJ will add to stimulus measures.
Taiwan’s Taiex Index climbed 0.8 percent, while India’s S&P BSE Sensex index added 0.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.6 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3 percent. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.
China’s manufacturing growth unexpectedly slowed in February, a signal the nation’s economic recovery may be losing steam, according to two separate reports.
The official Purchasing Managers’ Index was 50.1 in February, the weakest in five months and down from 50.4 in January, a report from the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed today in Beijing. A separate gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics dropped to a four-month low of 50.4 from 52.3. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed. U.S. stocks erased gains in the final minutes of trading yesterday as investors prepared for rebalancing of benchmark indexes and the Senate voted to keep $85 billion of spending cuts in place.
Japanese developers gained on speculation Haruhiko Kuroda, who was nominated to be the next Bank of Japan governor, will boost stimulus. Mitsubishi Estate climbed 6.1 percent to 2,450 yen. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Japan’s second-largest developer by market value, rose 3.2 percent to 2,434 yen. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., gained 5.9 percent to 3,320 yen.
Sony climbed 3.9 percent to 1,390 yen. The electronics maker will book a 41 billion yen gain this quarter from selling a building in Shinagawa ward, according to a statement today. The company, which has been selling assets to avoid a fifth straight annual loss, will lease the offices from the new owners, a group led by Nippon Building Fund Inc.
Nomura Holdings Inc. rose 3.4 percent to 550 yen after Japan’s biggest brokerage said it will sell a stake in its real-estate unit for about 53 billion yen ($572 million).
Among stocks that declined, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. fell 1.9 percent to HK$117.70 as Hong Kong’s biggest developer by market value lowered its home sales target after the city stepped up measures to curb property prices that have doubled in four years.
Golden Agri-Resources slid 3.1 percent to 63 Singapore cents after saying fourth-quarter profit declined 93 percent from a year earlier to $53.6 million as palm-oil prices dropped.
Of the 412 companies on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index that have reported earnings since January and for which estimates are available, 50 percent missed expectations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.