Asia Stocks Poised for Biggest Advance Since September
Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index heading for its biggest jump in more than five months, after U.S. economic data bolstered confidence in the global recovery and as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated a new central bank governor.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 capped its longest monthly winning streak since 2006 amid speculation Abe’s nominee, Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda, will push for more monetary stimulus. In Sydney, James Hardie Industries SE (JHX), a building-materials supplier that gets 67 percent of sales from the U.S., gained 3.2 percent. New World Development Co., a Hong Kong builder controlled by billionaire Cheng Yu-tung, rose 3.8 percent after posting earnings that beat estimates.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1.5 percent to 135.17 as of 8 p.m. in Tokyo, poised for the biggest increase since Sept. 14. More than six stocks rose for each that fell on the measure, which is also up 1.5 percent in February.
“U.S. housing is pretty good, which is providing a huge catalyst to consumers in terms of the wealth effect,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne. “The buy-on-dips strategy is pretty much in play. We’re definitely pricing in a lot more good news in equities.”
The Asia-Pacific gauge capped a fourth month of advance, the longest win streak since September 2009, amid signs the U.S. and Chinese economies are improving and on bets Abe will step up efforts to stimulate Japan’s economy.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 2.7 percent, extending its advance for a seventh month, the longest such streak since January 2006. A report showed the nation’s industrial production rose for a second month in January and as Abe nominated Kuroda for Bank of Japan (8301) governor.
South Korea’s Kospi Index increased 1.1 percent even as data showed the country’s factory output unexpectedly dropped last month.
Australia’s ASX 200 Index gained 1.3 percent, while New Zealand NZX 50 Index added 1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 2 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 2.3 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 9.2 percent from the end of October through yesterday as Japanese shares rallied on speculation a new government led by Abe will press for more stimulus to beat deflation. Asia’s benchmark traded at 14.8 times estimated earnings compared with 13.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index added 0.1 percent. The gauge gained 1.3 percent yesterday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced to the highest level in five years amid signs the world’s largest economy is improving.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday recent increases in some interest rates may signal the U.S. economy is gaining vigor. Orders for U.S. durable goods excluding transportation gear climbed in January by the most in a year, while pending home sales increased more than forecast.
Exporters advanced. James Hardie gained 3.2 percent to A$9.80 in Sydney. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), the world’s biggest carmaker, rose 3.5 percent to 4,765 yen in Tokyo. Honda Motor Co., which gets 44 percent of sales from North America, climbed 3.8 percent to 3,455 yen.
“There’s a dawning realization from many people that they are not being aggressive enough with their exposure to equities,” said Glenn Morgan, head of Australian equity sales at Deutsche Bank AG in Sydney. “The macro backdrop is still looking better and companies are delivering. There’s a weight of money sitting in cash, out of the market.”
Treasury Wine Estates Ltd. jumped 8.2 percent to A$5.30 after Australia’s biggest wine maker said first-half profit increased 31 percent to A$52 million ($53 million), exceeding the A$47 million median estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
New World, Komatsu
New World gained 3.8 percent to HK$14.28 in Hong Kong after reporting underlying profit jumped 45 percent to HK$4.1 billion ($529 million). That compares with the HK$3.2 billion median estimate of four analysts compiled by Bloomberg.
Of the 398 companies on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) that reported profits since January and for which estimates are available, 50 percent exceeded expectations, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
Komatsu Ltd. (6301), Japan’s biggest maker of construction machinery, advanced 3.7 percent to 2,338 yen in Tokyo after the Nikkei newspaper reported the company’s operating profit in the year ending March 2014 will exceed 300 billion yen, without saying where it got the information. That’s compared with the 285.10 billion yen average estimate by 25 analysts tracked by Bloomberg.
Among stocks that declined, Japan Exchange Group Inc., which doubled in value since listing in January, slumped 11 percent to 7,060 yen. The shares may continue to trim gains accumulated ahead of the bourse’s inclusion in Japan’s Topix Index today and the MSCI All-Country World Index tomorrow, according to SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.
“There’s been demand for the shares simply based on the fact of their inclusion in the indexes,” Keiichi Ito, a quantitative strategist at SMBC Nikko, said in a phone interview. “When the events are over, there should be a substantial negative impact.”
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