Japan Stock Futures Rise on BOJ Easing Optimism, Weaker Yen

Japanese stock futures rose on speculation the Bank of Japan will step up monetary easing once its new leadership takes over and as the yen touched a 3 1/2-year low against the dollar. Australian equities gained.

American depositary receipts of Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Japan’s third-largest bank by market value, gained 2.2 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Sony Corp., which gets 19 percent of its revenue in the U.S., added 2.2 percent. BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s biggest mining company and oil producer, advanced 0.4 percent as crude rose.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in June closed at 12,350 in Chicago yesterday, up from 12,290 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 12,350 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.1 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.2 percent.

“The new governor is on the way to lead the BOJ and he’s going to be a lot more aggressive in stimulating the economy,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which has $126 billion under management. “Japan has had 15 years of deflation and the strong commitment to defeating deflation coming from the government and the new governor has to be a game-changer.”

Bank of Japan deputy governor nominees are to appear in upper house confirmation hearings today, while the central bank releases minutes of its February policy meeting.

New Governor

BOJ governor nominee Haruhiko Kuroda said yesterday the central bank will consider buying derivatives if he’s confirmed as governor and signaled a readiness for a quick expansion in monetary stimulus. Current governor Masaaki Shirakawa and his two deputies are scheduled to step down on March 19.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The index rose 0.3 percent at the close of trading in New York yesterday to be within nine points of its record high.

Energy shares may rise after crude oil for April delivery gained 11 cents to $92.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since Feb. 27.

Shares of Japan Tobacco Inc. may be active after the government priced a stake in the former tobacco monopoly at 2 percent less than yesterday’s closing share price as part of a 978 billion yen ($10.1 billion) sale to help fund rebuilding projects after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 5.6 percent this year through yesterday, when it closed at the highest level since Aug. 2, 2011. The Asian benchmark traded at 15.2 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 14.1 times for the S&P 500 and 12.7 times for the Stoxx 600.

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese companies in the U.S. declined 0.4 percent to 94.69 yesterday in New York, declining for the first time in three days.

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