Australia Stocks, Japan Futures Rise on U.S. Data, Stimulus

Australian stocks and Japanese equity futures rose, following a surge in U.S. shares to a record, as service-industry growth in the world’s largest economy improved and investors bet central banks will continue stimulus measures.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s No. 1 mining company, advanced 1.5 percent in Sydney as commodity prices climbed. American Depositary Receipts of Nissan Motor Co., which gets 80 percent of sales outside Japan, rose 1.3 percent. ADRs of Sharp Corp. surged 7.7 percent after Kyodo and NHK media outlets reported the Japanese TV maker is in talks with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. for a 10 billion yen ($107 million) investment.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring this month closed at 11,835 in Chicago yesterday, up from 11,690 at the close in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 11,830 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.7 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.6 percent.

“Markets look like they want to undergo a correction, but this desire is being prevented by strong liquidity flows from central banks,” said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research in Sydney at Perpetual Investments, which manages about $25 billion.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 9.2 percent this year though yesterday and the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark regional equities gauge, climbed 3.9 percent as central banks around the world maintained loose monetary policies to support economic growth. Australia’s benchmark would close at the highest level since September 2008 if it maintains today’s gains.

Relative Value

The MSCI Asia Pacific index traded yesterday at 14.8 times average estimated earnings compared with 13.9 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.6 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average yesterday climbed to a record yesterday, erasing losses from the financial crisis, as China vowed to maintain its growth target and investors bet central banks will continue stimulus measures.

The bull market in U.S. equities entered its fifth year this month. The S&P 500 has surged 128 percent from a 12-year low in 2009 as companies reported better-than-estimated earnings and the Federal Reserve embarked on three rounds of bond purchases to stimulate the economy. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 61 percent from its 2009 low.

The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of raw materials gained 0.3 percent yesterday. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. climbed 1.2 percent in New York yesterday.

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