Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark gauge on course for a fourth weekly gain, as energy and materials companies climbed. Chinese equities dropped as regulators increased the pace of initial public offerings.
BHP Billiton Ltd. advanced 3.2 percent in Sydney as iron-ore prices surged after the miner curbed growth plans. Oil explorer Inpex Corp. added 1.3 percent in Tokyo as crude headed for a six-week advance. TDK Corp., an electronics maker that gets most its sales overseas, dropped 2.2 percent as the yen rose on disappointing U.S. data. Citic Securities Co. lost 3.9 percent in Shanghai amid concern new equity sales will divert funds from existing stocks.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.4 percent to 155.87 as of 4:06 p.m. in Hong Kong to extend a seven-year high. The gauge is poised for a 1.4 percent increase this week and the longest run of weekly advances since February.
“There are plenty of positives,” said Andrew Clarke, director of trading at Hong Kong brokerage Mirabaud Asia Ltd. “The investors who have missed the rally in some of the markets are still coming in. But we have also come to a point in some markets where it’s time to take a bit of profit.”
Taiwan’s Taiex index added 1.2 percent, closing at its highest since April 2000. The island nation introduced limits on foreign investment in its corporate debt market this week, fueling speculation of a shift to equities from bonds.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 1.5 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 0.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index retreated 0.6 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed.
The Shanghai Composite slid 0.5 percent, falling from its highest since March 2008. The China Securities Regulatory Commission said it would review and approve two batches of IPO applications each month, up from one previously. The 10 companies making trading debuts today all jumped by the 44 percent daily limit. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks listed in Hong Kong added 0.1 percent, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 0.8 percent.
The rally in Chinese stocks “has weak legs because it’s too fast, too soon,” Roshan Padamadan, a money manager at Luminance Global Fund in Singapore, told Bloomberg TV. “All rallies end the same way, when you get more supply of paper. There are many companies that want to do IPOs that try to time the top of the market.”
Japan’s Topix lost 0.4 percent after the yen strengthened 0.2 percent to 119.31 against the dollar as U.S. jobs and housing data cast doubt on the economic recovery. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average slid 0.8 percent.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent. The underlying equity measure added 0.2 percent on Thursday, while the Nasdaq Composite Index reached a record, topping its dot-com-era high.
Data showed purchases of new U.S. homes slumped more than forecast in March from a seven-year high, a sign progress in the industry will be halting. Applications for unemployment benefits held below 300,000 for the seventh straight week, pointing to a rebound in payrolls after hiring eased last month.