Asian Stocks Climb to Eight-Week High as Finance Shares Advance

Asian stocks followed U.S. shares higher, with the regional benchmark index heading for an eight-week high, as financial companies led gains.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. rose 0.8 percent in Hong Kong, pacing gains among Chinese lenders, as data showed the nation’s broadest measure of new credit exceeded estimates. AIA Group Ltd., the third most valuable Asia-based insurer, climbed 3.4 percent in Hong Kong after its quarterly new business value beat analyst estimates. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. jumped 4.8 percent in Sydney after Australia’s third-largest iron ore producer vowed to reward shareholders with dividends even while it seeks to trim debt and rivals slash payouts.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.4 percent to 134.51 at 4:02 p.m. Hong Kong time. The measure has climbed 0.9 percent this wee, poised for a third weekly advance. Global equities resumed their October rebound, with U.S. stocks rising to an eight-week high amid strong bank earnings and mounting speculation the Federal Reserve will put off raising interest rates until 2016. Investors don’t see better-than-even odds of rates increasing until March next year, with a 30 percent chance of liftoff by December.

“The Fed probably won’t move rates yet and that could help support the share markets,” Tony Farnham, a Sydney-based strategist at Patersons Securities Ltd., said by phone. “While the global economy isn’t taking off as people would like it to, it’s not as if we’re falling into a deep abyss. There are some spots in the global economy that are not so dire.”

China Credit

The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.6 percent, extending this week’s gain to 6.5 percent, the most since June, as traders speculated the government will accelerate reforms of state-owned companies and credit data suggested measures to boost lending are gaining traction. Aggregate financing rose to 1.3 trillion yuan ($205 billion), from an originally reported 1.08 trillion yuan in August, according to a report from the People’s Bank of China. That exceeded the median estimate for 1.2 trillion yuan in a survey of economists.

“The central bank has loosened its tap on liquidity and SOE reform will continue through the year,” said Wei Wei, an analyst at Huaxi Securities Co. in Shanghai. “It’s a good time window for stocks now and the rebound will probably carry on.”

Japan’s Topix index climbed 1 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index closed little changed. Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.5 percent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.8 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.7 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.2 percent.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose as much as 0.2 percent. The underlying gauge jumped 1.5 percent on Thursday to its highest close since Aug. 20 as bank shares rebounded amid Citigroup Inc.’s better-than-estimated results.

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