Asian Stocks Rise on Japan Stimulus, China Manufacturing

Asia’s benchmark stock index rose, led by Japanese shares, on bets the nation’s new central bank governor will announce fresh stimulus and after a survey showed Chinese manufacturing expanding faster than estimated. Gains were limited amid efforts to fix Cyprus’s banking crisis.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s biggest company, rose 1 percent. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest mining company, climbed 1.4 percent as metals prices increased. Tencent Holdings Ltd. slumped 4 percent after analysts cut price targets on China’s largest Internet company. Esprit Holdings Ltd., a clothier that counts Europe as its biggest market, slid 2.2 percent as Cyprus politicians searched for a way to address its banking crisis.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.4 percent to 134.91 as of 7:28 p.m. in Tokyo while a measure that excludes Japanese shares dropped 0.2 percent for a fourth day of retreat. Shares in Tokyo climbed the most of any Asian market, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rising to the highest since September 2008, as the market reopened following yesterday’s holiday.

“Asian equities can still rise 15 to 20 percent from here by the end of the year,” Herald Van Der Linde, head of equity strategy for Asia Pacific at HSBC Holding Plc in Hong Kong, said in a phone interview. Stocks “will benefit from improving financial conditions as a result of interventions of major central banks. China continues to be a good value market.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 12 percent from mid-November through yesterday as investors bet that a change of leadership in Japan would press its central bank to deploy more easing. That pushed valuations on the gauge to 15 times estimated earnings yesterday compared with 14.1 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and a multiple of 12.8 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

China PMI

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.1 percent, dragged lower by Tencent’s decline. China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3 percent after the 51.7 March reading for the preliminary Purchasing Managers Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed factory activity accelerating in China. The result compares with the 50.8 median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 11 analysts. A level above 50 shows expansion.

Rio Tinto climbed 1.4 percent to A$58.30 after prices for industrial metals advanced. Fanuc Corp., which supplies robotics for Chinese factories, gained 5.2 percent to 15,360 yen in Tokyo.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.3 percent, the highest since Sept. 3, 2008. New central bank Governor Haruhiko Kuroda may announce a policy shift today at his first press conference after the close, the Nikkei reported without attribution. Japan’s 10-year bond yield touched its lowest since 2003 today.

Toyota rose 1 percent to 4,990 yen, briefly touching the highest level since August 2008. Nissan Motor Co. advanced 1.9 percent to 975 yen.

Kospi Falls

South Korea’s Kospi Index slid 0.4 percent after a computer network shutdown triggered by a cyberattack sent the measure yesterday to its biggest drop in two months.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.2 percent, having swung betweens gains and losses at least 12 times. Volume was 23 percent higher than its 30-day average for the time of day as options contracts on equity indexes expired. Prime Minister Julia Gillard retained leadership of the governing Labor party after predecessor Kevin Rudd declined to challenge in a ballot.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. The gauge yesterday snapped a three-day decline after Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said further gains in the U.S. labor market are needed to consider reducing record monetary easing. Fed officials forecast the nation’s unemployment rate won’t fall enough to warrant interest rate cuts until 2015.

Tencent dropped 4 percent to HK$252.40, extending a slump to 11 percent from March 8, as analysts from Morgan Stanley to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut the company’s share-price forecast.

Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris said his government is asking for Russia’s help after the island’s lawmakers rejected a tax on bank accounts to help pay for a bailout. The island-nation’s President Nicos Anastasiades met advisers to draft a new plan, which may include a new version of the deposit tax, according to an official who spoke after a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday and who asked not to be identified in line with government policy.

“While the China PMI lifted the market earlier, it seems the Cyprus situation is continuing to drag market sentiment,” said Jackson Wong, vice president at Hong Kong-based brokerage Tanrich Securities Co.

Esprit slid 2.2 percent to HK$9.60 in Hong Kong, while AAC Technologies Holdings Inc., a maker of acoustic components that gets more than a quarter of its revenue from Europe, retreated 2.7 percent to HK$31.25.

Japanese real estate companies declined after Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the industry. Mitsubishi Estate Co., Japan’s biggest developer by market value, slumped 2.7 percent to 2,587 yen. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Japan’s largest property company by sales, slipped 1.5 percent to 2,605 yen.