Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark poised for its longest streak in three months, led by Japanese stocks as the Topix index rose to a five-year high after the yen fell.
Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker, advanced 2.9 percent in Tokyo. SoftBank Corp. added 3.4 percent in Tokyo on a report it’s likely to raise funds to buy T-Mobile US Inc. in the U.S. bond market. Rex International Holding Ltd. slumped 8.6 percent in Singapore after the oil explorer said a joint venture suspended its first well in Oman.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.4 percent to 139.74, rising for an eighth consecutive day, the longest streak since September. Japan’s Topix index added 1.7 percent to 1,279.34, the highest close since Aug. 11, 2008. The yen has slid on prospects the Bank of Japan will continue unprecedented easing while the Federal Reserve prepares to scale back stimulus starting January.
“A reduction in the Fed’s quantitative easing is boosting bets for a weaker yen, which is lifting shares,” said Hitoshi Asaoka, a Tokyo-based senior strategist at Mizuho Trust & Banking Co., a unit of Japan’s third-largest bank by market value. “Also, China’s money market has stabilized. Risk appetite is likely to improve and send stocks higher.”
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 1 percent to 16,174.44, the highest close since Nov. 6, 2007. The Topix rose 49 percent this year, the most among 24 major developed markets tracked by Bloomberg, as Japan’s policy makers took steps to end 15 years of deflation.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.6 percent after climbing the most in three weeks yesterday, spurred by a two-day drop in benchmark money-market rates after China’s central bank injected cash to ease a year-end funding crunch. China’s money-market rates declined for a third day even with the People’s Bank of China unlikely to conduct repurchase or reverse repurchase operations today, according to traders.
China’s economy this year is likely to expand 7.6 percent, compared with the government’s 7.5 percent target, Xinhua News Agency said, citing a report by the State Council.
South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.1 percent after reopening from a holiday. The nation’s consumer confidence index stayed at 107 in December, unchanged from November, the central bank said in a statement.
Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.2 percent, and Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.2 percent. Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong are shut today.
Japanese shares gained as the yen touched 104.84 per dollar, the lowest since October 2008. Toyota, which gets 31 percent of its revenue in North America, added 2.9 percent to 6,340 yen. Mazda Motor Corp., a carmaker that counts North America as its biggest market, rose 3.7 percent to 532 yen, the highest since Sept. 8, 2008.
Nomura Securities Co., Japan’s largest brokerage, predicts the yen will weaken to 110 per dollar in 2014 and drop to 116 in 2015, Yunosuke Ikeda, the Tokyo-based head of foreign-exchange strategy, said at a seminar today. Nomura rose 4.7 percent to 806 yen.
SoftBank gained 3.4 percent to 9,070 yen after the Nikkei newspaper reported the mobile carrier is likely to raise more than 2 trillion yen ($19 billion) in the U.S. bond market for its purchase of T-Mobile. SoftBank yesterday fell 0.5 percent on a Nikkei report it’s considering an offer for the U.S. carrier next spring.
NH Investment & Securities Co. gained 3.6 percent to 5,120 won in Seoul after its parent company was named the preferred bidder for Woori Investment & Securities Co., the country’s biggest broker by assets.
Rex International slumped 8.6 percent to 58.5 Singapore cents. A unit of its Lime Petroleum Plc venture saw drilling of a well stopped by mud losses, the company said in a statement on Dec. 24.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.3 percent to a record on Dec. 24 before closing yesterday for Christmas.
The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 13.9 times estimated earnings, compared with 16.65 for the S&P 500 on Dec. 24, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.