June 19 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index heading for a two-week high, as investors awaited the conclusion of a Federal Reserve policy meeting. Japanese exporters rallied after the nation’s shipments increased more than analysts estimated.
Honda Motor Co., a Japanese carmaker that gets about 83 percent of sales from overseas, added 2 percent. Rio Tinto Group gained 1.6 percent after a report the world’s No. 2 mining company will cut jobs at its Australian iron-ore operations. China Mengniu Dairy Co., the country’s largest dairy producer, surged 6.9 percent in Hong Kong after offering to buy a local infant-formula maker.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 1 percent to 133.02 as 7:22 p.m. in Tokyo, with about five shares rising for every four that fell on the gauge. More than $2 trillion has been erased from global markets since Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said May 22 U.S. policy makers could scale back stimulus efforts if the employment outlook shows “sustainable improvement.”
“The market has been fretting over what the FOMC meeting will come out with,” Martin Lakos, division director at Macquarie Private Wealth in Sydney, told Bloomberg Television. “There’s absolutely no explicit indication at all of a change in monetary policy by the Fed until we see the unemployment rate go down to 6.5 percent. We clearly see what the Japanese government is putting in place to get the economy going.”
Japan’s Topix index advanced 1.9 percent and the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 1.8 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 1 percent.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.7 percent to the lowest close since Dec. 13 amid signs a cash crunch is worsening in the mainland. The nation’s one-year interest-rate swap, which is used to exchange fixed payments for the floating seven-day repurchase rate, surged as much as 41 basis points to 4.39 percent, the highest level since September 2011. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 1.1 percent while a gauge of mainland shares in the city retreated 1.5 percent.
New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slid 0.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.7 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index fell 0.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.5 percent.
Shares on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index traded at 12.7 times estimated earnings yesterday, compared with multiples of 15 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index increased 0.1 percent today. The gauge climbed 0.8 percent yesterday to its highest level this month as investors awaited the outcome of the Fed meeting for clues on the central bank’s plan for stimulus.
“As there was market turmoil on concern about tapering in the U.S., I think the Fed is going to try to bring some calm,” said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager in Tokyo at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., a unit of Japan’s second-biggest lender.
Japanese exporters gained after a report showed the nation’s shipments surged in May by most since 2010, beating analysts’ estimates and underscoring the impact of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reflation campaign by weakening the yen. A weaker yen boost the value of overseas income at carmakers and electronics manufacturers when repatriated.
Honda gained 2 percent to 3,565 yen. Canon Inc., the world’s biggest camera maker, climbed 2.4 percent to 3,250 yen. Nintendo Co., the maker of Wii game consoles, rose 4.8 percent to 11,000 yen.
SoftBank Corp., a Japanese mobile carrier controlled by billionaire Masayoshi Son, climbed 4.2 percent to 5,460 yen after rival bidder Dish Network Corp. said it won’t make a new offer for Sprint Nextel Corp.
Rio Tinto increased 1.6 percent to A$54.38 in Sydney. The company is cutting jobs including managerial roles at its iron-ore mines in Western Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on its website, without saying where it got the information.
News Corp., the Wall Street Journal publisher spun off by Rupert Murdoch, fell in its Sydney debut. The billionaire’s newspaper assets started trading separately in a split from his entertainment businesses.
The Chess depositary interests, the Australian equivalent of an ADR, debuted at A$15 before closing at A$14.55. Shares in the U.S. television and movie businesses, which will be renamed 21st Century Fox, rose 5.1 percent to A$30.53 after being adjusted for the split.
China Mengniu climbed 6.9 percent to HK$28.70 in Hong Kong after offering HK$12.5 billion ($1.6 billion) to buy infant-formula maker Yashili International Holdings Ltd.
Shipping companies rallied after the Baltic Dry Index, which tracks the cost of shipping raw materials from iron ore to corn, rose for a ninth day in London yesterday. Shares also gained after A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container line, said it will pool vessels with its biggest competitors in an effort to manage overcapacity and raise unprofitable freight rates.
Nippon Yusen KK, Japan’s second-largest shipping company, climbed 4 percent to 263 yen. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. surged 9.5 percent to 207 yen. Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., South Korea’s biggest shipping line, rose 2.1 percent to 14,600 won.
Among stocks that fell, Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant wrecked during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, dropped 3.9 percent to 517 yen after the company said it found unsafe levels of radiation in groundwater at the facility.
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