Asia Stocks Set for Best Monthly Gain Since Sept. 2010

Asian stocks are headed for the biggest monthly gain since September 2010 after U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly fell and Japan’s inflation accelerated to the fastest pace since 2008.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.,the world’s largest contract manufacturer of chips, rose 1.5 percent to NT$103. Tokyo Electric Power Co. gained 6.6 percent as the operator of the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station applied for safety checks to restart a plant in Niigata. Mirabela Nickel Ltd. slumped 59 percent after the Australian producer of the metal said it may miss its output forecast.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1 percent to 140.63 as of 5:03 p.m. in Hong Kong as eight of the 10 industry groups advanced. The gauge climbed 8 percent this month through yesterday, touching a four-month high on Sept. 23, after the Federal Reserve unexpectedly maintained its stimulus program. It has jumped 7.8 percent this quarter.

“The U.S. jobs data was a positive surprise,” Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners Ltd. in Wellington, said by telephone. “I don’t think the Fed will do anything until December as they’ll want to see not just one good data point, but a series of steady improvements. It’s been a very solid quarter for markets.”

The September gains pushed valuations on the Asia-Pacific gauge to 13.7 times estimated earnings yesterday from 12.7 at the end of August, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 15.4 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 14.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, the data show.

China Data

China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent. The nation’s industrial profits rose 24 percent in August from a year earlier, according to data release by the National Bureau of Statistics, after gaining 11.6 percent the month before.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.2 percent to a five-year high. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index gained 0.2 percent, while Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.6 percent.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index both climbed 0.4 percent. Japan’s Topix index slipped 0.2 percent. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.3 percent.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index slipped 0.3 percent. The gauge rose 0.3 percent yesterday after a Labor Department report showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell last week. The economy expanded at faster pace in the second quarter from the previous three months, with gross domestic product rising at a 2.5 percent annualized rate, the Commerce Department said.

Exporters advanced. TSMC gained 1.5 percent to NT$103. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the Taiwan-based assembler of Apple Inc.’s iPhones and iPads, added 0.7 percent to NT$76.63. Toshiba Corp., the Japanese maker of products from televisions to steam turbines, rose 2.1 percent to 445 yen.

Best Performer

Japan’s Topix climbed 10 percent this month, extending its surge this year to 42 percent, the biggest gain among 24 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg, amid optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan can lead the country out of deflation through monetary easing.

A panel advising the world’s largest pool of retirement savings said the Japanese government should review its holdings of domestic bonds that make up the bulk of its pension assets.

The interim report from the panel of economists comes as market participants say the 121 trillion yen ($1.23 trillion) Government Pension Investment Fund should increase its holdings of risk assets. Some members of the group recommended adding new assets such as real-estate trusts, infrastructure and private-equity investments and commodities, yesterday’s report said.

Japan Inflation

Japanese consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 0.8 percent in August from a year earlier, beating economist forecasts and setting the fastest pace since 2008, a report today showed.

Tokyo Electric gained 6.6 percent to 597 yen, the largest gain on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average, after the governor of Niigata prefecture said yesterday he will allow the utility to apply to restart the world’s largest nuclear plant.

Among shares that fell, China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co., a milk producer backed by billionaire Cheng Yu-tung, dropped 3 percent to HK$2.59 after its shares started trading on Hong Kong’s bourse.

Mirabela Nickel sank 59 percent to 2.5 Australian cents after saying it may fall short of its yearly production estimate due to challenging short-term outlook.