Asian Stocks Rise on U.S. Manufacturing, China Services

Asian stocks rose, pushing a regional equities index to its highest level in 17 months, after an expansion of U.S. manufacturing and China’s services industries fueled optimism in the global economic recovery.

Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest mining company, climbed 2.4 percent in Sydney as metals prices rose. China Communications Services Corp., a Beijing-based telecommunications support firm, gained 1.7 percent in Hong Kong. Australian miner Aquarius Platinum Ltd. soared 13 percent, the most since May, amid speculation that South African supply of the metal will be lower during the first quarter.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index rose 0.4 percent to 478.16 as of 8:09 p.m. in Hong Kong, adding to yesterday’s biggest gain in three months. More than two shares increased for each that fell. A close at this level would be the highest since August 2011. Markets in mainland China and Japan are closed today for holidays.

“The global economic outlook is improving,” Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which has almost $130 billion under management, told Bloomberg Television. “That will underpin further gains in share markets along with very easy monetary conditions. There’s still more upside to go. That probability of the fiscal cliff and a U.S. recession has been taken out.”

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.4 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies listed in the city increased 0.8 percent after surging by the most in almost a year yesterday.

Consolidation Time

“There’s a lot of profit taking activity today because yesterday there was a very big rally from the fiscal cliff resolution,” said Lewis Wan, Hong Kong-based chief investment officer at Pride Investments Group Ltd., which oversees about $250 million. “But overall, the sentiment is still very good.”

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.7 percent, to the highest closing level since May 2011. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 0.4 percent, to the highest close since December 2007. South Korea’s Kospi Index slid 0.6 percent, dragged lower by Samsung Electronics Co., which accounts for 20 percent of the gauge.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 0.7 percent and Taiwan’s Taiex Index climbed 0.7 percent.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures fell 0.3 percent today after the gauge jumped 2.6 percent yesterday.

The regional benchmark MSCI Asia Pacific Index surged 14 percent in 2012 as central banks from the U.S., Europe, Japan and China took action to spur economic growth. The Asia Pacific gauge traded at 15 times average estimated earnings, compared with 13.1 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 11.8 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Factories

Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded in December. The Institute for Supply Management’s U.S. factory index rose to 50.7 in December from 49.5 a month earlier, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said yesterday. Economists in a Bloomberg survey projected a reading of 50.5 for December, according to the median of 71 forecasts. The dividing line between expansion and contraction is 50.

China’s non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 56.1 in December from the previously reported 55.6 in November, according to the Beijing-based National Bureau of Statistics and the Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.

China Communications rose 1.7 percent to HK$4.70. Maoye International Holdings Ltd., a Shenzhen-based department-store operator, increased 8.4 percent to HK$1.80. China Wireless Technologies Ltd. gained 1.3 percent to HK$2.32.

Global equities surged yesterday after the House of Representatives passed a bill in Washington undoing income-tax increases for more than 99 percent of households.

Miners Jump

The bipartisan vote broke a yearlong impasse over how to prevent more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that could have led the economy back into recession. President Barack Obama has signed the bill into law.

Raw-material companies posted the largest gains among 10 industry groups on the Asian equities gauge. Rio Tinto added 2.4 percent to A$69.25 and Aquarius Platinum soared 13 percent to A$1.005 in Sydney. Zijin Mining Group Co., China’s biggest gold miner by market value, climbed 1 percent to HK$3.16. The London Metal Exchange Index of six industrial metals advanced 3.7 percent yesterday, its largest gain in more than three months.

Citic Securities Co., China’s biggest listed brokerage, lost 3.9 percent to HK$20 in Hong Kong. Samsung fell 2.1 percent to 1.54 million won in Seoul, retreating from a record high yesterday, after being named in a new patent-infringement complaint filed in Washington over technology related to the latest mobile-phone standards.

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