July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index on course for the biggest advance in 10 months, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. will continue stimulus and on speculation China will take steps to boost growth.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the largest global mining company, jumped 3.2 percent in Sydney as raw-material stocks led gains on the Asia-Pacific benchmark gauge. Guangzhou R&F Properties Co., a builder in the southern Chinese city, jumped 9.7 percent in Hong Kong on speculation a softer policy stance will benefit the housing market. ABC-Mart Inc. rose 3.6 percent in Tokyo after the shoe retailer’s first-quarter profit rose 15 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 1.8 percent to 134.90 as of 5:23 p.m. in Hong Kong, the most since September. The gauge extended a recovery from a six-month low on June 25 to 8 percent. All 10 industry groups on the index climbed, with more than three shares gaining for each that fell. The Bank of Japan today announced it was maintaining its pace of stimulus.
“Economic growth in the U.S. will continue to improve and the Fed won’t start tapering until the end of the year,” Daphne Roth, Singapore-based head of Asia equity research at ABN Amro Private Bank, which oversees about $207 billion, said by telephone. “The Bank of Japan will continue with monetary policy, fiscal policy and, with support in the upper house, hopefully growth strategies as well. We are quite positive on equities.”
Bernanke, who sparked a stock and bond rout in May after signaling the Fed’s asset buying could be reduced this year, said yesterday that “highly accommodative” monetary policy will be needed for the “foreseeable future.”
Minutes of the Fed’s June meeting showed that while “several members judged that a reduction in asset purchases would likely soon be warranted,” many want to see further improvement in the labor market before reducing the central bank’s $85 billion-a-month quantitative easing program.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 2.6 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares listed in the city soared 3.7 percent, the most since January. China’s Shanghai Composite rose 3.2 percent, its largest gain since December 2012, amid speculation the government will take measures to bolster economic growth.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang may announce “targeted” policy support measures in coming months, boosting investment in urban infrastructure, affordable housing and public services to bolster domestic consumption, Jian Chang, a Hong-Kong based economist at Barclays Plc, wrote in a note to clients.
Chinese developers gained, with Guangzhou R&F surging 9.7 percent to HK$11.14. China Resources Land Ltd., the second-biggest mainland property company traded in Hong Kong, jumped 6.6 percent to HK$21.90.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.3 percent after a report showed employers unexpectedly hired extra workers in June. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 1.9 percent, and Taiwan’s Taiex Index jumped 2.1 percent. Japan’s Topix index closed little changed.
South Korea’s Kospi index increased 2.9 percent as the Bank of Korea held its key interest rate unchanged for a second straight month as it gauges the effect of a May cut in boosting growth.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 1 percent. U.S. stocks yesterday closed little changed as investors analyzed minutes from the Fed’s last meeting for signs on when the central bank might slow the pace of stimulus efforts. Bernanke spoke after the close of U.S. equity markets.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 8.2 percent through yesterday from a five-year high on May 20 amid concern the Fed will begin tapering stimulus as China’s economy slows and Japan puts off unveiling economic reforms until after upper-house elections this month.
The regional gauge yesterday traded at 13 times average estimated earnings compared with 15 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.1 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Bank of Japan today stuck with an April pledge to expand the monetary base by 60 trillion to 70 trillion yen ($605 billion to $705 billion) per year. The central bank raised its assessment of the economy, referring to a “recovery” for the first time since the record 2011 earthquake.
Thirteen of 20 economists in a Bloomberg News survey completed July 8 predicted no extra BOJ monetary loosening in the next six months amid signs the recovering economy may spur inflation.
Gauges of energy and raw-material shares posted the largest advance on the Asia-Pacific index. BHP Billiton rose 3.2 percent to A$32.84. Rio Tinto Group gained 3.7 percent to A$54.32. Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s biggest producer of the metal, advanced 6.6 percent to HK$12.84 in Hong Kong.
Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s No. 1 gold miner, soared 12 percent to A$11.10 in Sydney, its steepest gain in 4 1/2 years, as bullion prices climbed a fourth day.
ABC-Mart advanced 3.6 percent to 4,380 yen in Tokyo after quarterly sales jumped 21 percent.
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