Asian Stocks Head for 19-Month High on U.S. Jobs, Yen

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index heading for the highest close since August 2011, after U.S. jobs data beat estimates and Japanese exporters gained on a weaker yen.

Techtronic Industries Co., a maker of power tools that gets most of its sales in North America, gained 1.9 percent in Hong Kong. Resona Holdings Inc. and Shinsei Bank Ltd. led gains among Japanese lenders on speculation they may follow Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. with plans to repay public funds. Agile Property Holdings Ltd., a Chinese developer, slid 1.8 percent in Hong Kong as stock indexes in the city erased gains following Chinese economic reports that missed estimates.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.7 percent to 136.52 as of 8:35 p.m. in Tokyo, set for the highest close since Aug. 2, 2011. About five stocks gained for every four that fell. The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index was little changed at 482.90 after falling as much as 0.4 percent.

The U.S. jobs data “has shown the world’s largest economy is really starting to gain momentum and, of course, that’s all positive for financial markets,” said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research in Sydney at Perpetual Investments, which manages about $25 billion. “The biggest part of the global economy, namely the U.S., is doing well and continues to do well, whereas there’s a small question mark over China. That’s containing the rally.”

The Asia-Pacific measure gained 11 percent from the end of October through March 8 as Japanese shares surged on optimism a new government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will press for more stimulus to beat deflation. Shares on Asia’s benchmark traded at 15.1 times estimated earnings compared with 14 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.7 for the Stoxx Europe 600 on March 8, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

BOJ Easing

Haruhiko Kuroda, nominee for the BOJ governorship, said today the central bank will consider buying derivatives if he’s confirmed and signaled to more bond more quickly.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.5 percent, gaining for an eighth day, as the yen traded near a 3 1/2 year low against the dollar. The ratio of short selling to total trading value at the Tokyo Stock Exchange last week fell to the lowest level since the bourse began releasing the data in October 2008.

The Nikkei climbed 43 percent in the 74 days since the rally began in November. After adjusting for the yen’s depreciation against the dollar, the return shrinks to about 19 percent, or four percentage points more than the S&P 500, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

North Korea

South Korea’s Kospi Index dropped 0.1 after North Korea threatened to target South Korea’s incoming defense minister. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was little changed and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3 percent.

Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.3 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.3 percent.

Futures on the S&P 500 fell 0.2 percent today. The gauge gained 0.5 percent on March 8, when data showed U.S. employers added 236,000 jobs. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a gain of 165,000. The jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent.

Companies that do business in the U.S. gained, with Techtronic advancing 1.9 percent to HK$17.22. Li & Fung Ltd., a supplier of toys and clothes to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., rose 1.6 percent to HK$11.16 in Hong Kong.

James Hardie Industries Plc, a seller of home siding that derives one third of revenue in the U.S., added 0.7 percent to A$10.16 in Sydney. Nissan Motor Co., a carmaker that gets 32 percent of its revenue in North America, gained 3.2 percent to 993 yen in Tokyo.

Exiting Bailout

Japanese banks rose after Sumitomo Mitsui Trust said today it bought back 200 billion yen ($2.1 billion) of shares from the government. Its shares gained 2.3 percent to 437 yen. Resona surged 14 percent to 531 yen, while Shinsei Bank soared 8.4 percent to 245 yen.

The banks are among lenders that were rescued by taxpayers after bad loans mounted following the collapse of Japan’s property and stock-market bubble in the 1990s. Resona, the most recent to be bailed out a decade ago, is considering repaying part of the government’s stake, Kyodo News reported on March 8, without saying where it got the information.

Innolux Corp. advanced 7 percent to NT$18.35 after the Commercial Times said the maker of liquid crystal displays and AU Optronics Corp. will benefit from an increase in TV panel shipments. AU Optronics added 4.9 percent to NT$13.95.

Chinese developers dropped after the nation’s industrial production increased in the two months through February at the slowest pace since 2009. Retail sales rose 12.3 percent, trailing economists’ estimates. New local-currency loans in February fell to 620 billion yuan ($99.7 billion), the People’s Bank of China said yesterday, also falling short of estimates.

Agile Property fell 1.8 percent to HK$9.46 and Shimao Property Holdings Ltd., which develops real-estate in China, dropped 2.8 percent to HK$13.98 in Hong Kong.