Japan Stock Futures Rise as Yen Weakens; Australian Futures Gain

Japanese and Australian stock futures rose, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average trading close to its highest level in almost five years, as the yen weakened and sales of new U.S. homes climbed.

American Depositary Receipts of Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, and Canon Inc., a camera maker that gets 80 percent of sales outside Japan, gained 1.9 percent from the closing price in Tokyo yesterday. Shares of Daikin Industries Ltd. may be active in Tokyo among suppliers to Apple Inc. after the maker of iPads forecast sales that missed analysts’ forecasts.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 expiring in June traded at 13,695 in Chicago yesterday compared with 13,540 at the close in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 13,700 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 1 percent. The yen traded at 99.35 per dollar as of 7:25 a.m. in Tokyo, down from 98.76 when Japanese equity markets closed yesterday. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.2 percent, a fourth day of gains.

“The economy in the U.S. is hitting that sweet spot where it’s not bad enough to worry investors but not strong enough for the Federal Reserve to start withdrawing stimulus,” said Stan Shamu, a markets strategist at IG Markets Ltd. in Melbourne, a provider of trading services in currencies and equities. “It’s positive for the global economy. There are still heightened expectations of central-bank action.”

Relative Value

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark regional equities gauge, rallied 5.8 percent this year through yesterday amid signs the U.S. economy is recovering and as the Bank of Japan stepped up economic stimulus measures. That left the gauge trading at 13.9 times average estimated earnings compared with 14.3 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.7 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. The gauge climbed 1 percent yesterday as earnings from Travelers Cos. to Netflix Inc. beat estimates and new-home sales rose in March.

Purchases of single-family properties climbed 1.5 percent last month to a 417,000 annual pace, Commerce Department figures showed yesterday in Washington. The median estimate of 76 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for sales to rise to 416,000.

Bomb Scare

A false report of explosions at the White House wiped $136 billion from the S&P 500 in about two minutes yesterday. The benchmark gauge was up 1 percent at 1:07 p.m. New York time when a posting on the Associated Press Twitter account said there had been explosions at the White House and President Barack Obama had been injured.

The index erased almost the entire gain, recovering from the plunge within three minutes as the news service said its Twitter account had been hacked and there were no explosions. Exxon Mobil Corp., Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft Corp. briefly lost about 1 percent before recovering.

In Europe, a contraction in euro-area services and factory output in April stoked speculation the European Central Bank may cut interest rates to boost growth.

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

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