Asia Stocks Set for Best Week Since 2011 as Fed, Oil Buoy Shares

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index heading for its biggest weekly advance since December 2011, as U.S. shares rallied after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting indicated the central bank won’t rush to raise interest rates.

Santos Ltd. jumped 8.6 percent in Sydney, leading gains among the region’s energy producers, as oil climbed above $50 a barrel for the first time since July. Noble Group Ltd. surged 16 percent in Singapore as the commodities trader was said to be overhauling its metals unit after vowing to focus on delivering immediate results. Fast Retailing Co. slumped 9.8 percent in Tokyo after the clothier’s earnings and forecasts missed analyst estimates.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1.7 percent to 133.39 as of 4:01 p.m. in Hong Kong, poised for a 5.6 percent rally this week. While Fed officials noted the U.S. economy continued to improve, the committee decided to wait for additional data confirming the outlook for growth, the minutes showed. Officials cited growing risks, mainly from China, while saying they were on track to increase rates this year. Odds of a Fed liftoff in 2015 have fallen below 50 percent, futures data show, after a weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report last week.

“This looks like a sustainable turnaround,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist in Sydney at CMC Markets Plc, said by phone. “Investors have become less pessimistic. "Things are definitely not in a strong economic environment but there is an expectation of further central bank support.”

China Stimulus

Japan’s Topix index added 2.3 percent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 1.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Time Index climbed 1.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5 percent. Markets in South Korea and Taiwan are closed for holidays Friday.

The Shanghai Composite Index increased 1.3 percent after investors speculated the government will take more steps to boost the economy. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in Hong Kong advanced 1.2 percent. The rebound in Chinese stocks in Hong Kong has room to run, said Ayush Nagaraj, a sales trader and chartered market technician at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2 percent. The underlying equity measure advanced 0.9 percent on Thursday as commodity shares rallied.

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