Japanese Stock Futures Little Changed, Australian Shares Climb

Japanese stock futures were little changed a day after the Bank of Japan opted to hold off on new monetary stimulus until next year, shifting the emphasis on to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to end two decades of deflation. Australian shares rose.

American Depositary Receipts of Canon Inc., a camera maker that gets 80 percent of sales outside Japan, lost 1.4 percent as the yen strengthened further after the close of Japan’s equity markets yesterday. Boral Ltd. climbed 1.2 percent after the Australian building materials company increased its profit forecast. BHP Billiton Ltd. gained 1 percent in Sydney as the world’s largest mining company said iron-ore production increased 3 percent.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 10,650 in Chicago yesterday, down from 10,700 at the close in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 10,630 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.4 percent, heading for the highest closing level since May 2011. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 0.3 percent.

The Bank of Japan meeting “marked yet another faltering step on the path toward reflation,” said David Homan, New York-based director of macro strategy at Credit Suisse Group AG. The decision “leaves a lot of steps still to come. The reality for reflation still looks more like a slow-burning fuse.”

While Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa’s board said yesterday it will buy government bonds indefinitely to help achieve a 2 percent inflation target, there were caveats. The BOJ said the policy will only start next year and the increase in asset purchases will top out at 10 trillion yen ($113 billion). The yen advanced the most in eight months against the dollar.

Election Boost

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average has risen 24 percent since elections were announced on Nov. 14 on optimism the central bank would add to stimulus amid pressure from Prime Minister Abe’s new government.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index traded at 14.3 times average estimated earnings compared with 13.5 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.1 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index rose 0.1 percent today. The gauge climbed 0.4 percent yesterday after better-than-forecast earnings from companies including Travelers Cos. and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. rose 0.1 percent to 101.79 yesterday in New York.

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