Japan, Australian Stock Futures Rise on Metals Prices, Earnings

Japanese and Australian stock futures gained, with the Asia-Pacific benchmark equities gauge poised to extend a five-year high, as rising metals prices boosted raw-material producers and profits at National Australia Bank Ltd. cheered investors.

Shares of National Australia Bank may be active after the country’s largest lender by assets reported higher first-half cash profit. ADRs of BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, gained 0.8 percent as metals prices advanced. Those of Toyota Motor Corp. sank 1.1 percent from the close in Tokyo after the world’s No.1 carmaker forecast profit and revenue that missed analyst estimates. Shares of News Corp. may be active in Sydney trading after the Rupert Murdoch-led media company reported third-quarter earnings beat estimates.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in June traded at 14,365 in Chicago yesterday, up from 14,260 at the close in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 14,360 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.3 percent before a report that may show the country’s unemployment rate held at 5.6 percent last month. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.1 percent.

“The shift of money into equities is going to be an ongoing theme for a very long time,” said Peter Esho, Sydney-based investment adviser at Wilson HTM Investment Group, which has $11.8 billion in assets under management. “Investors want a stable base of earnings and that has been good so far. Central bank money printing is not changing any time soon. It makes equity markets look very attractive.”

Hong Kong

Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.6 percent and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies trading in Hong Kong added 0.5 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark regional equities gauge, increased 11 percent this year through yesterday amid speculation the Bank of Japan will deploy more measures to beat deflation as policy makers in the U.S. and Europe remain on standby to buoy growth.

That left the gauge yesterday trading at 14.3 times average estimated earnings compared with 14.8 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.3 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Of the 190 companies on the Asia-Pacific measure that have reported quarterly earnings since the beginning of April, and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 61 percent have topped projections, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.1 percent. The gauge yesterday climbed 0.4 percent, a fifth day of gains, as earnings forecasts from Whole Foods Market Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc. beat analyst estimates.

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. climbed 1.8 percent in New York yesterday. The Chinese government is due to report inflation data today. Consumer prices probably gained 2.3 percent in April from a year earlier, below a government assumption for 2013 of 3.5 percent, a Bloomberg survey of 40 economists shows.

The London Metal Exchange Index of industrial metals climbed 1.9 percent, the most in a month.

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