Asia Stocks Set for Best Week Since October Amid Hong Kong Rally

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Asian stocks were poised for the biggest weekly advance in five months as mainland buyers drove a rally in Hong Kong. The Shanghai Composite Index closed above 4,000 for the first time since 2008.

China International Marine Containers (Group) Co. jumped 15 percent in Hong Kong to lead gains around the region. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. capped a 27 percent advance this week after the bourse today said there’s plans to expand the quota for the trading link with Shanghai. Fast Retailing Co. gained 2.5 percent to a record in Tokyo after the clothier boosted its profit forecast.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.3 percent to 152.24 as of 4:34 p.m. in Hong Kong, extending a more than six-year high. The measure is headed for a 3 percent advance this week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, also called the H-share index, surged 10 percent in the holiday-shortened week after valuation discounts to mainland shares reached the widest since 2011 and regulators made it easier for Chinese funds to use the cross-border bourse connect.

“This phenomenon of a large amount of money pushing into a space in the market in such a short period of time is exaggerating moves,” Tim Schroeders, a portfolio manager who helps oversee about $1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “It looks highly speculative and prone to a correction at some stage. There seems to be a lot of speculation fueling funds flow in terms of policy stimulus from China which may or may not happen.”

Hong Kong

The H-share index of mainland shares traded in Hong Kong gained 1.7 percent. The benchmark Hang Seng Index added 1.2 percent today. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.9 percent to close at its highest since March 2008 after data showed deflationary pressures easing.

China’s consumer-prices index rose 1.4 percent from a year earlier, compared with the median estimate of 1.3 percent in a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. Fears of an imminent slide into deflation appear excessive, said Bloomberg economists Tom Orlik and Fielding Chen.

South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 1.4 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index added 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.6 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index closed little changed. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.2 percent.

Japan Stocks

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 0.2 percent at the close, erasing gains of as much as 0.3 percent after briefly touching 20,000 for the first time in 15 years. The Topix index lost 0.3 percent.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.1 percent. The benchmark U.S. equities index gained 0.5 percent on Thursday amid a rebound in crude, offsetting quarterly results from Alcoa Inc. and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. that disappointed investors.

A report Thursday showed fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits over the past four weeks than at any time in almost 15 years, signaling underlying strength in the labor market even as hiring cooled last month. Applications over the latest week climbed by 14,000 to 281,000. The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 283,000.

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