Asia Stocks Rise, Led by Japan Shares, on BOJ Head Report

Asian stocks rose, extending last week’s advance, as Japanese shares led gains on speculation the next Bank of Japan governor will deploy aggressive monetary easing. Hong Kong developers fell after the city doubled taxes on some property transactions.

JFE Holdings Inc., Japan’s No. 2 steelmaker by market value, jumped 8.6 percent for the second-biggest advance on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. Beach Energy Ltd. rose 5.8 percent in Sydney after Chevron Corp. agreed to partner with the energy company on gas exploration. Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. fell 1.3 percent, pacing declines among Hong Kong developers.

The Asia-Pacific gauge rose 0.6 percent to 134.41 as of 9.19 p.m. in Tokyo after adding 0.5 percent last week. About five stocks gained for every three that fell on the measure. Shares pared increases in Shanghai after a private survey showed China’s manufacturing may expand this month at a slower pace. Investors also are awaiting Italian election results today.

“Reports on the BOJ are clearly signaling the central bank is ready to ease aggressively,” said Kazuyuki Terao, Tokyo-based chief investment officer of Allianz Global Investors Japan Co., part of Allianz Global Investors that oversees about 302 billion euros ($398 billion). “Things are positive for Japanese stocks, but you want to bear in mind that you may see overseas uncertainty increase depending on the outcome of the Italian election.”

Japan Policy

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 9.5 percent from the end of October through Feb. 22 as Japanese shares rallied on speculation the new government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will press for more stimulus to beat deflation.

Asia’s benchmark traded at 14.8 times estimated earnings compared with 13.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Japan’s Topix Index, the country’s broadest equity measure, advanced 1.8 percent as the yen fell to the lowest since May 2010 against the dollar after a government official said Abe is preparing to nominate Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda as BOJ governor. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average jumped 2.3 percent for its highest close since September 2008.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.8 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 gained 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index fell 0.5 percent.

China Manufacturing

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.2 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.5 percent, paring gains of as much as 1.1 percent. The preliminary reading of a Purchasing Managers’ Index on China’s manufacturing was 50.4 in February, according to a statement from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics today. That compares with the 52.3 final reading for January and the 52.2 median estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. A number above 50 indicates expansion.

Japanese exporters rose as the yen dropped to its lowest level in almost three years against the dollar, touching 94.77 before trading at 94.32. Japan’s central bank has “substantial room” for further loosening and additional measures could be justified this year, Kuroda said in a Feb. 11 interview.

JFE surged 8.6 percent to 2,105 yen. Toyota Motor Corp., which gets a quarter of its sales in North America, climbed 1.5 percent to 4,800 yen. Canon Inc., the world’s biggest camera maker, increased 1.8 percent to 3,375 yen.

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. jumped 12 percent to 204 yen, pacing gains among Japanese shipping lines after industry leader A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S said global container demand will accelerate. Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan’s No. 1 owner of cargo vessels, jumped 5.5 percent to 232 yen.

Gas Exploration

Beach Energy advanced 5.8 percent to A$1.37 in Sydney after Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. energy company, agreed to pay as much as $349 million to jointly explore for natural gas in central Australia. It is Chevron’s first shale investment in the country.

Futures on the S&P 500 climbed 0.6 percent today. The gauge increased 0.9 percent in New York on Feb. 22 as German business confidence jumped to a 10-month high and earnings from Hewlett-Packard Co. and American International Group Inc. topped estimates. In Europe, Italians are voting in parliamentary elections today, the first polls since there since Europe’s financial crisis ushered in unelected leaders who imposed an austerity program.

Sharp Corp. dropped 5.2 percent to 294 yen in Tokyo after two people familiar with talks for Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group to invest in the television maker said they’ll probably end March 26 without an agreement.

Property Tax

Hong Kong developers fell as residential property sales in the city dropped, according to Midland Holdings Ltd., the city’s biggest publicly traded realtor. Sales tax was doubled on property costing more than HK$2 million ($258,000) and loan ratios for carparks and commercial premises were increased.

The Hang Seng Property Index dropped 0.3 percent. Sun Hung Kai Properties slid 1.3 percent to HK$117.70. Sino Land Co. lost 0.6 percent to HK$13.48, its longest losing streak since August.

Among stocks that rose, Alumina Ltd. gained 3 percent to A$1.21.5 in Sydney after its rating was raised to neutral from underperform at Credit Suisse Group AG.