Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Asia’s benchmark stock index was little changed, after a five-day winning streak, as health-care firms and telecommunication shares gained while banks slid along with consumer companies.
Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. soared 15 percent as people familiar with the matter said Roche Holding AG is in talks to buy the rest of the Japanese drugmaker. Nintendo Co. rose the most since March in Tokyo on U.S. sales of its “Mario Kart 8” video game and after an affiliate said it would release a Pokemon trading-card game for Apple Inc.’s iPad. National Australia Bank Ltd. slid 1.4 percent after the nation’s largest lender by assets said it will set aside more than 245 million pounds ($410 million) for compensation related to U.K. insurance and hedging products.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 147.96 as of 9:51 p.m. in Hong Kong after rising and falling 0.1 percent. Six of 10 industry groups on the gauge advanced. The measure last week rallied 2.7 percent as investors weighed earnings, Ukraine developments and economic data that fueled bets central banks will maintain stimulus.
We are seeing “a slight reduction in geopolitical risks,” said Shane Oliver, a Sydney-based global strategist at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which oversees about $131 billion. “The trend in shares is likely to remain up and, while it’s impossible to be sure given uncertainties around various geopolitical risks, we may have already seen the low.”
Japan’s Topix index closed less than 0.1 percent higher, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent. India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index advanced 1.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index declined 0.5 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slipped 0.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell less than 0.1 percent and Taiwan’s Taiex Index retreated 0.7 percent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was little changed, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in the city lost 0.4 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.6 percent. China’s foreign-direct investment slumped 17 percent in July from a year earlier, the Ministry of Commerce said today. Analysts had expected a 0.8 percent rise.
China’s new-home prices fell in July in almost all cities that the government tracks as tight mortgage lending deterred buyers even as local government eased property curbs. Prices fell in 64 of the 70 cities last month from June, the National Bureau of Statistics said today, the most since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the data.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 1.2 percent last week, for a second week of gains.
Foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia began talks in Berlin as European leaders push for an end to the conflict. The U.S. widened its air strikes on Iraq over the weekend and used bombers for the first time since the offensive began on Aug. 8 to help secure the country’s largest dam near Mosul that had been seized by insurgents.
The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 13.6 times estimated earnings at the last close compared with 16.4 for the S&P 500 and 14.9 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Chugai advanced 15 percent to 3,825 yen in Tokyo. Roche, which owned 62 percent of the company as of June 30, is in talks to buy the the rest of the shares for about $10 billion to gain full control of its Japanese partner for oncology and arthritis drugs, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Chugai said yesterday it is not currently in talks with Roche. Roche declined to comment.
Nintendo gained 4 percent to 11,740 yen after “Mario Kart 8” surpassed 1 million units in sales in the U.S. Nintendo affiliate The Pokemon Co. also will make an online trading card game available as an application for Apple Inc.’s iPad later this year, spokeswoman Kanako Murata said, confirming earlier blog reports.
Lenovo Group Ltd. jumped to a 14-year high in Hong Kong, climbing 1 percent to HK$11.68. International Business Machines Corp. cleared a security review for the sale of its low-end server business to the Beijing-based company.
National Australia lost 1.4 percent to A$34.22. The bank’s U.K. operations have weighed on earnings with mounting bad debts in 2012 triggering the first drop in full-year profit that year since 2009.
Aurizon Holdings Ltd. sank 3 percent to A$4.88 in Sydney after the rail freight company reported profit lower than its previous forecast.
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