Asia Stocks Rise Second Day on U.S. Data, Yellen Comments

Asian stocks rose for a second day after U.S. industrial production increased more than forecast in March and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank remains committed to supporting the economic recovery.

GungHo Online Entertainment Inc. surged 14 percent in Tokyo after the Nikkei newspaper reported the Internet game maker’s operating profit rose. Canon Inc. gained 1.3 percent on a report the camera maker’s earnings in the March quarter jumped about 50 percent. Citic Pacific Ltd. lost 3.1 percent in Hong Kong after the steelmaker and property developer agreed to pay 226.9 billion yuan ($36 billion) to buy Chinese banking and brokerage assets from its state-owned parent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.3 percent to 138.86 as of 4:31 p.m. in Hong Kong as all 10 industry groups rose. U.S. industrial production climbed last month after a February gain that was twice as big as previously estimated.

“The global economic cycle is gradually improving and monetary conditions are easy,” said Shane Oliver, who helps oversee about $130 billion as Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. “The trend in share markets is likely to remain up.”

Japan’s Topix index swung between gains and losses before closing little changed. The gauge yesterday capped its steepest rally in two months. GungHo soared 14 percent to 609 yen, while Canon gained 1.3 percent to 3,218 yen.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.3 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises of mainland shares traded in the city climbed 0.4 percent. The gauge has rebounded 9.5 percent since entering a bear market on March 20 amid speculation China policy makers will act to stabilize the economy.

Reasonable Range

Premier Li Keqiang said China isn’t considering “strong” stimulus, and reiterated that economic growth a bit higher or lower than 7.5 percent is a reasonable range, according to a statement posted yesterday on the central government’s website. The government said it will lower reserve ratios at some rural lenders.

Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index was little changed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.6 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 0.3 percent. Singapore Straits Times Index lost 0.1 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index traded yesterday at 12.6 times estimated earnings compared with 15.9 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Fed has a “continuing commitment” to support the recovery even as policy makers now see the economy reaching full employment by late 2016, Yellen told the Economic Club of New York yesterday. Investors should pay attention to shortfalls in both inflation and the jobless rate for signals on the Federal Open Market Committee’s decisions on the policy rate, she said.

Unwinding Program

Fed policy makers are unwinding the bond-buying program they have used to support the economy while keeping their target for overnight lending between banks in a range of zero to 0.25 percent since 2008.

The U.S. economy continued to expand in most regions as businesses benefited from a rebound from harsh winter weather earlier in the year. Eight of 12 Fed districts characterized growth as “modest or moderate,” the Fed said in its Beige Book business survey, based on reports gathered before April 7.

Futures on the S&P 500 slid 0.2 percent today after the equities gauge yesterday capped its best three-day rally in two months on optimism over corporate earnings and the strength of the world’s largest economy.

Citic Pacific sank 3.1 percent to HK$13.86 after agreeing to buy the Chinese banking and brokerage assets. It will pay 49.9 billion yuan in cash and issue almost 16.6 billion shares at HK$13.48 each, as well as raise funds from a separate share sale.

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