Asian Stock Futures Climb as Bernanke Eases Concerns on Tapering

Asian equity futures rose, indicating the regional benchmark may return to a two-month high, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke allayed concern the U.S. is planning to curb stimulus.

American Depositary Receipts of BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, climbed 0.5 percent from yesterday’s close of trading in Sydney as metals prices advanced. ADRs of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the largest cargo and freight carrier, gained 0.2 percent from the close in Hong Kong. Shares of TDK Corp. may be active in Tokyo after the Nikkei newspaper reported profit at the manufacturer of electronic parts fell 50 percent.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September closed at 14,670 in Chicago yesterday, up from 14,600 at the close in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 14,660 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.5 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent. Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5 percent.

Bernanke “struck a perfect accord between the doves and the hawks,” Evan Lucas, a Melbourne-based market strategist at IG Markets Ltd., a provider of trading services for equities, currencies and commodities, said in a telephone interview. “He’s got the language right to keep the market happy. It puts a lot of minds at ease and you’ll certainly sees risk assets on a far better footing.”

Futures contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland Chinese companies trading in Hong Kong advanced 0.6 percent. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. rose 1 percent in New York yesterday.

Bernanke Testimony

The Fed’s asset purchases “are by no means on a preset course” and could even be expanded should economic conditions warrant, Bernanke said in prepared testimony to the House Financial Services Committee yesterday.

Weekly U.S. jobless claims data due today will help investors assess the outlook for the Fed’s $85 billion-a-month bond buying program, which has contained increases in borrowing costs and stoked global equity gains over the past three years.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, the benchmark regional equities gauge, rose 5 percent this year through yesterday, with consumer discretionary stocks leading the gain and energy shares falling the most among the 10 industry groups on the measure. The gauge is trading within 0.1 percent of the 135.96 level reached July 16, the highest mark since May 29.

That left the index trading at 13.3 times estimated earnings compared with 15.2 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.3 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent yesterday after Bernanke’s testimony, having fallen from a record high the previous day.

The S&P GSCI Spot Index of raw materials prices added 0.1 percent yesterday.

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