Asia Stocks Snap Two-Day Fall as Investors Assess Crimea
Asian stocks rose, rebounding from the regional index’s first back-to-back declines in a month, as investors weighed the crisis in Crimea and ahead of the National People’s Congress annual meeting in China starting tomorrow.
Mitsubishi Estate Co. (8802) gained 2.2 percent in Tokyo as Japanese developers led the Topix index higher. Tencent Holdings Ltd., Asia’s biggest Internet company, advanced 1.7 percent as Hong Kong shares rebounded from their biggest drop in a month. AGL Energy Ltd. sank 2.5 percent in Sydney after its A$1.51 billion ($1.35 billion) deal to buy power plants in Australia’s most-populous state was blocked by an antitrust regulator.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2 percent to 137.03 as of 7:31 p.m. in Hong Kong after falling as much as 0.4 percent. Investors are considering signs of a global economic recovery against tension in the Crimea after Ukraine said Russia has 16,000 troops on its soil and that Russian forces are threatening to seize its warships. The Asian stock measure fell 0.8 percent yesterday, while global developed-market shares sank the most in a month. The yen weakened in the afternoon on a report Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops on military exercises in western Russia to return to base.
“These are definite buying opportunities,” Andreas Utermann, who helps oversee $442 billion as chief investment officer for Allianz Global Investors, said in a Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong. “This crisis is going to be resolved probably without a shot, with the end result being that Crimea will end up as part of Russia, and without a war. It’s going to stabilize.”
Japan’s Topix index climbed 0.6 percent, reversing losses of as much as 0.9 percent. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.5 percent. Futures on the Nikkei 225 stopped trading in Osaka for more than 20 minutes today due to a “human operational error,” the derivatives bourse operator said.
Japanese developers advanced. Mitsubishi Estate jumped 2.2 percent to 2,424 yen. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. added 3.6 percent to 4,186 yen. Mitsui Fudosan Co. increased 2.1 percent to 3,044 yen.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index (AS51) added 0.3 percent, maintaining gains after the central bank kept interest rates at a record low. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.5 percent to its highest-ever close. Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 0.6 percent
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) increased 0.7 percent. Tencent, the best-performer on the benchmark index this year, gained 1.7 percent to HK$612.50. China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.2 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index slipped 0.6 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index declined 0.5 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 5.9 percent from this year’s low on Feb. 4 through last week. The gauge traded at 12.9 times the estimated earnings of its constituent companies today, compared with 15.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 14.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Crimea, where ethnic Russians comprise the majority, has become the focal point of Ukraine’s crisis after an uprising triggered last month’s ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. Ukraine has mobilized its army and called for foreign observers after Russian forces took control of the peninsula. Russia, which keeps its Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol, raised its key interest rate yesterday as asset prices plummeted.
In China, the National People’s Congress annual meeting begins tomorrow. The latest meeting of the legislature, the first to be overseen by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, comes as leaders pledge to give markets a “decisive” role in the economy.
Investors will be watching the NPC meeting for clues to the next steps to fix local-government finances, charge market prices for natural resources, rein in shadow-banking risks, free up deposit rates and open up state businesses to private investment.
Futures on the S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent, indicating the U.S. equities benchmark will rise after yesterday dropping the most since Feb. 3.
China Vanke Co.’s B shares jumped by the 10 percent daily limit after the largest mainland developer received regulatory approval to convert the shares into Hong Kong-traded stocks.
Noble Group Ltd., Asia’s biggest commodity trader by sales, climbed 5.1 percent to S$1.04 in Singapore after saying it’s in talks over a potential joint venture for the group’s agriculture business.
Taisho Pharmaceutical Holdings Co. advanced 4.6 percent to 8,000 yen after Credit Suisse Group AG lifted its price target 41 percent to 9,700 yen, citing the possibility of higher earnings next year as its brand strengthens.
AGL Energy lost 2.5 percent to A$15.05. Australia’s second-biggest electricity retailer said it is reviewing the reasons for the ruling by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to block a deal to buy government-owned power plants in New South Wales.
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