Japan Stock Futures Rise on U.S. Housing, Labor Data, Weaker Yen

Japanese stock futures rose after data on U.S. housing and jobless claims beat estimates and the yen dropped to the lowest level since June 2010, buoying the outlook for Japanese exporters. Australian equities gained.

American depositary receipts of Toyota Motor Corp., a carmaker that gets a quarter of its sales in North America, rose 3.3 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s biggest lender, advanced 2.9 percent on a Nikkei report the Bank of Japan is preparing to ease monetary policy next week. Shares of Qantas Airways Ltd. gained 0.5 percent in Sydney as it canceled one of the 15 orders it has for Boeing Co.’s 787 aircraft, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 10,860 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 10,630 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 10,850 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.2 percent.

“The yen has extended losses and the U.S. economy is rebounding. Chances are Japanese stocks will resume gains after a short-term correction,” said Toshiaki Iwasaki, an analyst at Mito Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Now that the government with no economic policy is gone, you don’t want to underestimate the market’s strength.”

U.S. Housing

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The index added 0.6 percent in New York yesterday, when data showed builders broke ground on more houses than forecast in December and the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments fell more than forecast last week.

The yen touched 90.13 per dollar yesterday, the lowest level since June 2010. The currency also fell against all of its 16 major counterparts after Economy Minister Akira Amari said his comments earlier this week that excessive weakening of the yen was harmful had been misinterpreted.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.4 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 3.8 percent advance by the S&P 500 and a 2.7 percent increase by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. The Asian benchmark trades at 14.1 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.4 times for the S&P 500 and 12 times for the Stoxx 600.

Crude oil for February delivery advanced $1.25 to $95.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since Sept. 17.

Chinese stocks climbed in New York for the first time in three days on prospects the nation will report that Asia’s biggest economy grew at a faster pace after a seven-quarter slowdown. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. gained 0.1 percent to 101 yesterday.

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