March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index posting its fourth straight daily gain, as consumer shares led the advance.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.8 percent to 137.75 as of 6:39 p.m. in Tokyo with more than three shares rising for each that fell. The gauge lost 0.1 percent this month and 2.6 percent this year as investors weighed the crisis in Ukraine, with stocks in Japan and Hong Kong declining the most among developed markets. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks in Chicago today as investors await payrolls data due this week to assess the outlook for U.S. interest rates.
“Shares have rebounded a bit recently after falling too much due to the Ukraine situation,” said Masaru Hamasaki, a senior strategist at Tokyo-based Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., which oversees about 11 trillion yen ($107 billion) in assets. “Things haven’t deteriorated further, giving a sense of relief to the market.”
Halla Visteon Climate Control Corp., a maker of automotive air-control equipment, jumped 7.1 percent in Seoul, the most among a MSCI Asia Pacific Index industry group tracking consumer shares. Samsung SDI Co., a South Korean supplier of batteries to Apple Inc., jumped 6.6 percent after it agreed to buy Cheil Industries Inc. Mazda Motor Corp., a Japanese automaker that gets about 30 percent of its revenue in North America, gained 4.3 percent.
Japan’s Topix index added 1.4 percent as the yen held last week’s losses against the dollar, with Mazda advancing 4.3 percent to 458 yen. Data showed Japanese industrial production unexpectedly fell 2.3 percent in February from January. A three percentage-point sales-tax increase takes effect in the country tomorrow.
South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 0.2 percent. The nation’s military returned artillery fire after North Korea lobbed shells over their western sea border, pushing tensions to the highest in months. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.1 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index increased 0.9 percent, and Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.5 percent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.4 percent, and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in the city rose 0.7 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4 percent.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 0.3 percent today. The measure gained 0.5 percent on March 28 as consumer shares rebounded amid data showing household purchases, which account for almost 70 percent of the U.S. economy, rose in February by the most in three months.
An official purchasing managers’ index of Chinese manufacturing due tomorrow is estimated to decline to 50.1 for March from 50.2 in February, a Bloomberg survey of economists shows. Levels above 50 indicate expansion. HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics Ltd. also release the final reading on their China manufacturing PMI for March tomorrow, after preliminary numbers signaled a third month of contraction.
China is expected to roll out specific growth-supportive policies, analysts led by Lu Ting at Bank of America Corp., wrote in a note dated March 28, after Premier Li Keqiang said the nation can’t ignore “difficulties and risks” from increasing downward pressure. The official expansion target for this year is 7.5 percent, although investment banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS AG have projected lower growth.
Halla Visteon Climate Control jumped 7.1 percent to 48,600 won. Eclat Textile Co., which sells fabrics and garments, gained 7 percent to NT$352 in Taiwan after Deutsche Bank AG recommended the stock, citing valuations and saying its second-quarter revenue should improve on rush orders for seasonal products.
Samsung SDI jumped 6.6 percent to 161,000 won after it said it will buy Cheil Industries for about 3.5 trillion won ($3.3 billion) in stock to add chemical and electronic-material businesses. Cheil investors will receive about 0.44 of a share in an enlarged SDI for each share they own, according to a regulatory filing. Samsung SDI said the deal will take effect from July 1 if approved by stockholders. Cheil soared 5.8 percent to 71,700 won.
Among stocks that fell, Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil and natural gas explorer, dropped 5.4 percent to HK$11.66 in Hong Kong. Its net income declined 11 percent to 56.5 billion yuan ($9.1 billion) last year from 63.7 billion yuan in 2012, the company said in a statement. The share’s target price was cut to HK$14.5 from HK$15.5 at BNP Paribas SA.
Intime Retail Group Co. slid 7.5 percent to HK$8.35 in Hong Kong. The department-store operator earlier surged as much as 17 percent after saying it will receive about $692 million in an investment from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 12.5 times estimated earnings, compared with 15.9 for the S&P 500 and 14.6 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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