Australian Stock Index Futures Gain as U.S. Home Sales Rise

Australian stock futures rose as U.S. home sales climbed and investors speculated central banks will continue to stimulate the economy. Japanese equity futures fell as the yen strengthened against the dollar.

American Depositary Receipts of Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-largest oil producer, climbed 1.2 percent as crude rose to the highest level in more than two weeks. Shares of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., the nation’s third-biggest bank by market value, may be active as first-half cash profit climbed 10 percent. ADRs of Honda Motor Co. lost 0.6 percent after Japan’s No. 3 automaker forecast profit that missed analyst estimates.

Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.4 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.4 percent. Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in June traded at 13,850 in Chicago yesterday, down from 13,950 at the close in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 13,830 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Japanese equity markets reopen today after a holiday.

Forecasts for U.S. economic growth “point to a significant acceleration later this year,” said Gerard Minack, a Sydney-based global strategist at Morgan Stanley. “On top of this, there’s a growing view that any near-term weakness will lead to further policy stimulus.”

Hong Kong

Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5 percent and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland Chinese companies trading in Hong Kong added 0.6 percent. Mainland China’s equity markets are closed through May 1 for public holidays. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. climbed 1.1 percent in New York yesterday.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark regional equities gauge, climbed 8.6 percent this year and rose 3.7 percent this month through yesterday amid optimism Japan will deploy more measures to beat deflation and that policy makers in the U.S. and China remain on standby to support growth. That left the gauge yesterday trading at 14.1 times average estimated earnings compared with 14.5 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Federal Reserve will consider renewing its commitment to bond-buying at a two-day meeting that starts today.

U.S. consumer spending rose more than projected in March, reflecting a jump in outlays for services that is unlikely to be repeated. Household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, climbed 0.2 percent after a 0.7 percent gain the prior month, a Commerce Department report showed yesterday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 74 economists called for spending to be little changed.

U.S. Futures

Futures on the S&P 500 Index slipped 0.1 percent. The measure rose 0.7 percent to a record yesterday as pending sales of homes climbed amid optimism central banks will maintain stimulus plans.

West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 1.6 percent in New York yesterday.

Reports scheduled to be released before Japanese markets open today may show the jobless rate dropped and industrial production declined in the world’s third-largest economy.

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