Asia Stocks Climb After Biggest Weekly Rally Since December 2011

Asian stocks rose after posting their steepest weekly advance since December 2011, with technology companies and raw-material producers leading gains.

Commodities trader Noble Group Ltd. climbed 11 percent in Singapore, heading for a one-month high, amid speculation raw material prices have bottomed. China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. jumped 5.5 percent in Hong Kong after people familiar with the matter said state-owned China Reform Holdings Corp. plans to buy a stake in the firm being set up to own the wireless infrastructure of the nation’s major phone companies. Infosys Ltd. dropped 2.3 percent in Mumbai after India’s second-biggest software exporter reduced its sales growth forecast in dollar terms.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index climbed 0.8 percent to 427.61 as of 4:13 p.m. in Hong Kong, with Tokyo markets closed for a holiday. The measure jumped 6.5 percent last week. The comeback in global equities after their worst quarter in four years is being underpinned by sentiment surrounding central banks, which are showing little desire to pull back on stimulus.

“The only data supporting raising the Fed funds rate has been employment, which has begun to shrink in the last quarter,” Evan Lucas, a markets strategist at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, said in an e-mail to clients. “Coupled with increased talks of the approaching debt-ceiling negotiations, not to mention the 2016 presidential elections, all means we are seeing signs of the liftoff being pushed back, as inflation remains nowhere to be seen.”

China Stimulus

The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 3.3 percent to its highest close since Aug. 21 on speculation China’s government will take more steps to bolster economic growth. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies traded in Hong Kong climbed 1.3 percent, while the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 1.2 percent.

Speculation that China’s central bank will reduce interest rates or reserve-requirement ratios has increased before data this week that will likely show slowing exports and decelerating inflation. The People’s Bank of China announced over the weekend it will expand a relending trial to nine more cities and provinces, while Premier Li Keqiang said the government will increase fiscal support for shantytown redevelopment.

Regional Indexes

South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.1 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index gained 1.5 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 1 percent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index climbed 0.9 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.9 percent, with energy shares leading losses after surging last week. 

Odds of a Fed liftoff this year have fallen to below 50 percent, with traders predicting a 62 percent chance of an increase by March.

Speaking at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Peru, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said Sunday that while the U.S. economy may be strong enough to withstand a rate increase by the end of 2015, policy makers are monitoring labor conditions and the situation internationally as they mull when to pull the trigger.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. The underlying equity measure added 0.1 percent on Friday to cap its best week of 2015.

The Bloomberg Commodities Index climbed 0.7 percent Friday, led by a 10 percent surge in zinc after Glencore Plc said it plans to cut production of the metal used to galvanize steel by about a third. The gauge rose 0.6 percent Monday.

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