Asian Stocks Rise Most in Week as Japanese Banks Jump

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index headed for its biggest gain in a week, as Japan’s largest lenders jumped on speculation a recent share rally will boost profit. Australia’s market capped its longest rising streak since 2004 and Korean shares rebounded from yesterday’s loss.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s biggest bank, rose 3.8 percent in Tokyo. Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, a shipping port operator, surged 6.6 percent in Mumbai after a report the company will spend $235 million on expansion. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s largest lender by market value, slid 2.2 percent in Hong Kong after Goldman Sachs raised about $1 billion from selling a stake in the company.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.9 percent to 132.53 as of 7:14 p.m. in Tokyo, headed for its biggest advance since Jan. 18, with more than twice as many shares rising as declining. The gauge jumped 9.6 percent from Nov. 14 through yesterday, led by Japanese shares on optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new government will take the necessary steps to fight deflation.

“Investors are becoming risk-on from risk-off,” said Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co., which oversees about $5.5 billion. “With the U.S. economy on a recovery path, and Europe and China bottoming out, more people are becoming bullish on stocks in the mid- to long-term.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark regional equities gauge, traded at 14.4 times average estimated earnings compared with 13.6 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.3 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Nikkei 225 Advances

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.4 percent after erasing a 0.7 percent loss. The Topix Index, which capped its longest weekly winning streak in 40 years last week, increased 0.8 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 1.1 percent for a ninth day of gains. That’s the longest such streak since December 2004. South Korea’s Kospi Index advanced 0.8 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.1 percent after swinging between gains and losses, with volume about 59 percent higher than the 12-month average. China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.5 percent after rallying to an eight-month high yesterday. Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 1.1 percent.

Mitsubishi UFJ rose 3.8 percent to 497 yen in Tokyo. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s second-biggest lender by market value, jumped 4.4 percent to 3,450 yen. The banks’ nine-month profit each exceeded 500 billion yen ($5.5 billion), the Nikkei newspaper reported, citing the rising value of stock holdings.

Bank Earnings

The rebound in Japanese stocks, fueled by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to stimulate the economy, probably helped banks make up some of the losses they incurred on their equity holdings in the fiscal first half, said analysts at UBS AG and BNP Paribas SA. Signs are emerging that domestic lending is

Inpex Corp., Japan’s top energy explorer, rose 6.6 percent to 528,000 yen after Credit Suisse Group AG rated the stock outperform in new coverage.

Adani Ports surged 6.6 percent to 145.8 rupees in Mumbai. The company is planning to use more than $235 million fund to expand in India’s east coast, the Economic Times reported, citing Chief Financial Officer B Ravi. The company yesterday also reported a third-quarter profit that beat analyst estimates.

Samsung Climbs

Samsung C&T Corp. gained 6.8 percent to 64,300 won in Seoul after the construction and trading company’s fourth-quarter operating profit beat estimates and the stock was raised to buy at Kyobo Securities Co. Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest maker of smartphones, climbed 2.7 percent to 1.409 million won after yesterday closing at its lowest since Nov. 20.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed today. The gauge yesterday dropped as a decline in pending home sales outweighed a gain in durable-goods orders, while investors watched company earnings reports. The gauge closed at its highest level since October 2007 on Jan. 25 after capping its longest daily win streak since 2004.

Among stocks that fell, Citizen Holdings Co. dropped 5.4 percent to 504 yen in Tokyo after JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its rating on the watchmaker to neutral from overweight after it exceeded its price target of 500 yen. Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co. retreated 6.6 percent to 1,290 yen after SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. reduced the drugmaker’s rating to underperform from neutral.

Nintendo, Sony

Nintendo Co. slid 0.5 percent to 9,580 yen in Osaka and Sony Corp. declined 1.6 percent to 1,385 yen in Tokyo after Oriental Morning Post reported China’s culture ministry denied a China Daily report that said the Asian nation was considering lifting a ban on game consoles.

ICBC’s Hong Kong H shares slipped 2.2 percent to HK$5.82 in Hong Kong with trading volume about nine times the daily average. Goldman Sachs sold 1.35 billion shares at HK$5.77 each, 3 percent lower than the Chinese lender’s HK$5.95 closing price in Hong Kong yesterday. The New York-based bank has no immediate plans to sell more stock, Edward Naylor, a Hong Kong-based spokesman, said.

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