Asian Stocks Advance as Energy Shares Climb; Japan Falls on Yen

  • S&P 500 pushes three-day rally to 2.9% in New York trading
  • Australian trading volume well down as Christmas approaches

Asian stocks rose as gains in crude prices lifted oil shares and data showing strength in consumption boosted confidence in the U.S. economy. Japanese shares fell as a strengthening yen weighed on the profit outlook for exporters.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.2 percent to 131.31 as of 3:47 p.m. in Tokyo, with energy and material companies leading the advance among the measure’s 10 industry groups. Markets in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore rose in shortened trading days Thursday, while Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka were shut. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, surged 5.3 percent in Sydney.

A rally this week is brightening the poor performance of Asian shares in 2015. The MSCI Asia Pacific gauge is on course to drop 4.8 percent this year for the first back-to-back losses since 2002 amid decelerating Chinese growth and a rout in commodities. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index erased its loss for the year on Wednesday as the measure climbed 1.2 percent.

“Equity markets look keen to have a good Christmas break and deal with the hangover of ongoing systemic issues in the new year,” said Angus Nicholson, a Melbourne-based market analyst at IG Ltd. U.S. personal income “was yet another data point that further underlines the improving employment situation. The bounce in commodity stocks is only ephemeral; the ongoing issues for these industries are far from solved.”

E-mini futures on the S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent. U.S. shares capped a 2.9 percent three-day advance on Wednesday, buoyed by energy shares and data showing an increase in consumer purchases in November was accompanied by rising wages and scant inflation, indicating the biggest part of the U.S. economy will continue to underpin growth.

West Texas Intermediate February futures extended gains to as high as $37.90 a barrel after climbing 3.8 percent in New York on Wednesday as a report showed U.S. crude inventories declined, easing a supply glut. Crude supplies fell 5.88 million barrels last week, the biggest drop since June, government data showed.

Origin Energy Ltd. jumped 6.2 percent in Sydney, pacing gains among the region’s energy explorers. Goldin Properties Holdings Ltd. soared 54 percent in Hong Kong, the most since 2007, after the company raised $2.8 billion selling commercial properties.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.4 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index gained 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 1.3 percent with volume 67 percent below its 30-day average. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index and Singapore’s Straits Times Index both added 0.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.4 percent. Japan’s Topix index declined 0.7 percent as the yen strengthened for a third day.

China’s stocks retreated as health-care and property companies slumped amid speculation recent gains were overdone, and concern grew initial public offerings will divert funds away from existing equities.

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