May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Asia’s regional benchmark stock index held near its highest level since June 2008, as the Bank of Japan maintained its plan to expand the monetary base. Sony Corp. surged, while Chinese power producers declined.
Sony jumped 5.9 percent in Tokyo the electronics maker’s chief executive said it will evaluate spinning off its entertainment division. Sojitz Corp. soared 13 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported the trading company’s profit will rise. China Resources Power Holdings Co., a state-owned electricity generator, sank 4.5 percent, dragging power producers lower in Hong Kong as trading restarted after a storm.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.1 percent to 144.90 as of 6:26 p.m. in Tokyo, reversing a gain of 0.6 percent, with almost the same number of stocks rising and falling. The measure surged 11 percent this year through yesterday as U.S. economic data improved and Japan’s central bank took steps to counter deflation.
“Even some of the conservative pension funds are afraid that they will underperform their peers, so they are shifting back into domestic Japanese equities,” said Masahiko Ejiri, a Tokyo-based fund manager at Mizuho Asset Management Co., which oversees about $45 billion. “We still have a long way to go with this rally.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific gauge traded yesterday at 14.2 times average estimated earnings, compared with 15.2 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.6 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Japan’s Topix Index gained 0.4 percent, extending a 4 1/2-year high. Japanese stocks have risen the most this year among 24 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg.
The BOJ affirmed a plan to double the monetary base, pledging to adjust policy as needed after a jump in bond yields threatened to undermine stimulus. Japan’s economy grew last quarter at the fastest pace in a year as stock-market gains buoyed consumer spending.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index sank 0.5 percent after a storm shut the city’s markets this morning and power producers declined. Trading volume was 7 percent below the 30-day average. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies slid 0.3 percent. A private survey of preliminary China data tomorrow is expected to show manufacturing isn’t accelerating. The Shanghai Composite slid 0.1 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.3 percent. The gauge reversed earlier gains after consumer confidence slumped the most in 17 months.
New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.4 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.2 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index increased 0.6 percent.
Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent. The gauge climbed 0.2 percent yesterday to a record after Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said the central bank should continue its bond-buying to boost economic growth.
Sony jumped 5.9 percent to 2,290 yen. CEO Kazuo Hirai today said the board would weigh investor Daniel Loeb’s plan to sell as much as 20 percent of electronic maker’s entertainment unit in an initial public offering.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, slid 9.6 percent to 737 yen after surging 59 percent in the last four days. The Topix Electric Power & Gas Index surged 63 percent this year through yesterday.
Sojitz surged 13 percent to 224 yen after the Nikkei reported the trading company’s pretax profit will likely rise 30 percent next fiscal year.
China Galaxy Securities Co., a brokerage controlled by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, jumped 6 percent to HK$5.62 on its trading debut in Hong Kong. The company raised HK$7.65 billion ($986 million) in its IPO.
Seven West Media Ltd. sank 7.9 percent to A$2.10 after KKR & Co. sold a stake in Australia’s most-watched television broadcaster at A$2.21 per share.
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