Asian Stocks Rise Third Day on Health Care, Weaker Yen

Asian stocks rose for a third day, with the regional benchmark index posting the longest winning streak in four weeks, as health care shares rose and a weaker yen boosted Japanese shares.

Taisho Pharmaceutical Holdings Co. jumped 4.2 percent in Tokyo as health care stocks led gains among the MSCI Asia Pacific Index’s 10 subsectors. Honda Motor Co., a carmaker that gets almost half its sales in North America, added 2.5 percent as the yen slid for a third day on optimism the U.S. government will avoid default. Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd. dropped 5.9 percent in Hong Kong after Credit Suisse Group AG said the cosmetic retailer’s sales during China’s week-long holiday missed estimates.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1 percent to 139.2 as of 9:19 p.m. in Tokyo after falling as much as 0.3 percent. U.S. House Republican and Senate Democratic leaders are open to a short-term increase in the debt limit, said congressional aides of both parties who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The market obviously is expecting the gridlock to be resolved,” said Donald Williams, Sydney-based chief investment officer at Platypus Asset Management Ltd., which oversees about A$1.6 billion ($1.5 billion). “But having said that, I think the market is uncertain until this is resolved, and so we’ve got choppy trading conditions ahead for the next week or so.”

Japan’s Topix index added 1 percent after yesterday rising the most since Sept. 19. The nation’s machinery orders rose more than expected in August, data showed today. The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index was little changed at 466.31.

Then yen fell 0.4 percent to 97.76 against the dollar today. Honda gained 2.5 percent to 3,885 yen. Mazda Motor Corp., an automaker that gets 30 percent of sales in North America, added 2.4 percent to 425 yen.

Regional Gauges

South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.1 percent after rising as much as 0.4 percent after the central bank cut its 2014 growth forecast to 3.8 percent from 4 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.1 percent even as data showed the nation’s unemployment rate expectedly dropped in September.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 0.4 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.9 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.5 percent. Taiwan’s markets were closed for a holiday.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.9 percent. The U.S. equity gauge rose 0.1 percent yesterday amid signs that lawmakers could raise the debt ceiling and on optimism Janet Yellen won’t rush to withdraw stimulus if she becomes Federal Reserve chief.

Yellen Nomination

President Barack Obama nominated Yellen, the current Fed vice chairman and an architect of its stimulus program, to succeed Ben S. Bernanke as central bank chairman. Most Fed policy makers said they were likely to reduce the pace of bond purchases this year, according to minutes released yesterday of their last meeting, which took place before the partial U.S. government shutdown started.

The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Health Care Index gained 1.1 percent. Taisho Pharmaceutical added 4.2 percent to 6,640 yen. Astellas Pharma Inc. gained 4.1 percent to 4,970 yen.

Sa Sa International lost 5.9 percent to HK$8.20 in Hong Kong after Credit Suisse said its same-store sales growth of 6 percent during China’s National Day holidays missed the brokerage’s estimates as well as the company’s forecast.

Rakuten Inc. fell 2.6 percent to 1,153 yen after its equity rating was cut at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which said the Japanese e-commerce company’s monthly tenant fees may come under pressure after Yahoo Japan Corp. cut fees for online stores. Yahoo Japan was unchanged at 515 yen after Goldman raised its price target.

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