Asia Stocks Rise to 17-Month High as Japanese Shares Jump

Asian stocks rose, with the benchmark index headed for its highest close since August 2011, as Japanese shares surged on earnings and amid speculation the Federal Reserve will renew its commitment to asset purchases.

Yahoo Japan Corp., owner of the nation’s largest Web portal, surged 17 percent and Koito Manufacturing Co., an automobile lighting equipment maker, jumped 10 percent after raising its full-year profit forecasts. Yuanta Financial Holding Co. rose 3.9 percent in Taipei after Taiwan said it will allow mainland institutions to invest twice as much in its securities market. Hengdeli Holdings Ltd. fell 13 percent in Hong Kong after Next Magazine reported it may have lost distribution rights for some Swiss-watch brands.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.5 percent to 133.26 as of 7:33 p.m. in Tokyo, with more than twice as many stocks climbing as falling. The gauge is poised to advance for a third month as Japanese shares rally on optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new government will add stimulus to fight deflation.

“The pain trade is fear that you are going to miss out on the rally,” said Bob Van Munster, head of Australian equities at Tyndall Investment Management Ltd. in Sydney, which has about $24 billion. “We have low interest rates and economic tail risks that are abating. As fear continues to diminish there will be a rotation into risk assets.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark regional equities gauge, traded at 14.4 times average estimated earnings yesterday, compared with 13.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Nikkei 225

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 2.3 percent, closing above 11,000 for the first time since April 2010. The broader Topix Index advanced 1.5 percent after last week capping its longest weekly winning streak since at least 1973.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.2 percent, rising for a 10th day and capping its longest winning streak since October 2003.

Taiwan’s Taiex Index climbed 0.4 percent. Taiwan will double the maximum inbound securities investments from China to $1 billion from $500 million, Huang Tien-mu, Taiwan’s securities regulator said yesterday. Yuanta Financial rose 3.9 percent to NT$15.90 in Taipei on the prospect that increased demand for securities would boost profit.

South Korea’s Kospi Index advanced 0.4 percent after the nation’s industrial output unexpectedly climbed. The Kospi is one of only two Asian benchmark stock measures to have declined this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The other is the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index, which dropped 0.6 percent today.

China Bull

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.7 percent with trading volume 23 percent above its 30-day average at the time of day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1 percent, after yesterday entering a so-called bull market. The index has climbed 21 percent since Dec. 3, when it closed at the lowest level since Jan. 2009. Some investors define a gain of more than 20 percent from a recent bottom as a bull-market rally.

Of the 1,000 companies listed on the Asian benchmark gauge, 216 are reporting earnings this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Of the 79 companies that have posted quarterly results this year, and for which Bloomberg has estimates, about half have beaten expectations.

Yahoo Japan surged 17 percent to 37,250 yen after the company raised its profit forecast for the year ending March, and after announcing plans to buy back as much as 1.4 percent of its outstanding shares. Koito Manufacturing jumped 10 percent to 1,494 yen. They were the two biggest gains in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index.

Softbank Report

Softbank Corp. advanced 3.6 percent to 3,175 yen after the Nikkei newspaper reported the mobile phone carrier may report record operating profit boosted by sales of Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

Central Japan Railway Co., a bullet train services provider, increased 6.6 percent to 8,100 yen after its nine-month profit surged 49 percent from a year earlier.

Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed today before a Fed policy decision today at which the central bank is expected to renew its commitment to asset buying, according to a Bloomberg News survey of 44 economists.

The measure gained 0.5 percent yesterday to its highest level since December 2007 on better-than-forecast earnings from companies including Pfizer Inc. and Valero Energy Corp.

Among stocks that fell, Hengdeli dropped 13 percent to HK$2.70. Volume surged to more than three times the 12-month average after the Next Magazine report. The company declined to comment on the story, Kelly Fung of Porda Havas International Finance Communication Group, which represents Hengdeli, said by phone.

ENN Energy Energy Holdings Ltd., a natural gas distributor, slipped 1.1 percent to HK$37 in Hong Kong after saying it plans to issue $500 million zero coupon bonds convertible to 79.8 million new shares.

Korea Electric Power Corp., South Korea’s monopoly electricity distributor, dropped 5 percent to 32,100 won in Seoul. The company isn’t planning any further tariff increases, Yonhap News reported, citing chief executive officer Cho Hwan Eik.

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