Asian Stocks Advance as U.S. Data Improve, Yen Falls

Asian stocks rose this week, paring their monthly decline, as U.S. data boosted confidence in the world’s largest economy and a weaker yen helped the Nikkei 225 Stock Average touch a near six-year high.

Samsung Electronics Co., a South Korean electronics maker that gets 22 percent of its revenue in the Americas, advanced 3 percent in Seoul. Television manufacturer Panasonic Corp. gained 7.3 percent in Tokyo after the yen slid to a six-month low against the dollar. Rakuten Inc. jumped 7.2 percent in Tokyo after the e-commerce company said it will boost its dividend. Forge Group Ltd. plunged 82 percent in Sydney after the provider of mining services forecast a loss.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.6 percent to 142.06 this week, trimming its November decline to 0.2 percent. Shares fell the previous week after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most-recent meeting signaled it may reduce record stimulus “in coming months” if the economy shows sustained improvement.

“We’ve had the very difficult period over the summer, which was dominated by the fear of tapering by the Federal Reserve and that has impacted both Asian as well as emerging markets broadly,” said Peter Elston, Singapore-based head of Asia-Pacific strategy at Aberdeen Asset Management, which oversees about $324.6 billion. “Now that we managed to get through that period, there’s a scope for Asian markets to rise.”

Global Stimulus

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 9.8 percent this year as central banks boosted stimulus to support growth globally and China’s economy showed signs of stabilization. The gauge traded at 14 times average estimated earnings, compared with multiples of 16.3 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 15.2 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Nikkei 225 gained 1.8 percent this week, closing at its highest since December 2007 on Nov. 28 before paring gains yesterday. The broader Topix index added 0.8 percent after the yen touched its lowest against the dollar since May, boosting Japanese exporters. The nation’s shares are the best performers among 24 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg, with the Topix on course for its biggest annual advance since 1999.

South Korea’s Kospi Index climbed 1.9 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index dropped 0.5 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.1 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 3.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.8 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 1.1 percent.

U.S. Growth

Asian shares rose amid signs the U.S. economy is improving, while investors continued to gauge when the Fed will start scaling back $85 billion of monthly bond purchases. Data showed fewer-than-expected Americans filed for unemployment last week. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan gauge of consumer sentiment in November rose to 75.1 from 73.2 a month earlier. The Conference Board’s index of U.S. leading indicators, a gauge of the economic outlook for the next three to six months, rose a fourth month in October.

Exporters advanced. Samsung gained 3 percent to 1,494,000 won. Panasonic, which relies on the Americas for 14 percent of its sales, jumped 7.3 percent to 1,175 yen. Mazda Motor Corp., a carmaker that gets about a third of its revenue in the region, climbed 3.1 percent to 471 yen.

Rakuten surged 7.2 percent to 1,574 yen. The Internet retailer controlled by billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani will raise its dividend to 4 yen a share from 3 yen a year earlier, according to a Nov. 26 statement. The higher payout includes a 1-yen-a-share commemorative payout following a plan to move its listing to the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the victory of its baseball team in the Japan Series.

Forge Tumbles

Among stocks that fell, Forge tumbled 82 percent to 75 Australian cents after forecasting a loss, leading declines among mining-services companies as materials producers cut spending. Boart Longyear Ltd., which leases drilling equipment, dropped 9.1 percent to 30 Australian cents in Sydney.

Doosan Engineering & Construction Co. plunged 24 percent to 1,680 won in Seoul, sinking 15 percent on Nov. 26 after the Korea Economic Daily said the company will sell redeemable convertible preferred shares. Doosan separately said on Nov. 25 it will reduce capital to 285.9 billion won from 2.77 trillion won to help enhance shareholder value.

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