Asian Stocks Advance Second Week on U.S. Data, Weaker Yen

Asian stocks rose for a second straight week with Japan’s Topix reaching its highest since 2008 as the yen weakened to a five-year low and as U.S. data added to evidence the world’s largest economy is strengthening.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker, gained 3.6 percent this week in Tokyo. Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., South Korea’s second-largest sea cargo carrier, jumped 12 percent after its parent said it plans to sell assets to raise 3.3 trillion won ($3.1 billion). Acer Inc. gained 8.5 percent in Taipei after the personal-computer maker named a new chief executive officer.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 1.2 percent to 140.33 this week, the biggest weekly advance since the five days ended Nov. 15. Shares climbed after data showed third-quarter U.S. growth was faster than previously estimated, while a separate report showed jobless claims dropped more than forecast in the week that ended Dec. 21. The International Monetary Fund said it will raise its outlook for the U.S. economy next year.

“The U.S. is going to finish the year strongly and that will continue to support markets in this region,” said Donald Williams, Sydney-based chief investment officer who helps oversee about A$1.6 billion ($1.4 billion) at Platypus Asset Management Ltd. Sentiment and fundamentals in most regions of the world are improving, he said.

Holiday closings in the week included Dec. 23 in Japan, Dec. 25-26 in Hong Kong and Australia, and Dec. 25 in Singapore and South Korea.

Asia’s regional equities gained 11 percent this year as the U.S. and China showed signs of stabilization. The gauge yesterday traded at 14 times estimated earnings, near the highest level since May, compared with multiples of 16.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 15.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index on Dec. 26, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Yen Weakens

Japan’s Topix index this week rose 2.3 percent, closing at its highest level in five years as the yen touched 105 against the dollar for the first time since October 2008. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.9 percent.

Toyota Motor rose 3.6 percent to 6,390 yen as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the carmaker may raise its operating-profit forecast if it takes the weaker yen into account. Mazda Motor Corp., a carmaker that gets 30 percent of sales in North America, jumped 6.7 percent to 542 yen.

The S&P 500 extended record highs after U.S. data released last week after the close of Asian markets showed gross domestic product climbed at a 4.1 percent annualized rate, the strongest since the final three months of 2011 and up from a previous estimate of 3.6 percent.

China Shares

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, also known as the H-share index, both climbed 1.9 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.8 percent. Shares gained after China’s central bank on Dec. 24 eased a year-end cash crunch by executing reverse-repurchase agreements for the first time in three weeks, sending the nation’s benchmark money-market rate to its steepest weekly decline since February 2011.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.1 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 1.8 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 1.8 percent.

Taiwan’s Taiex index advanced 1.5 percent. Acer surged 8.5 percent to NT$18.55 in Taipei after naming Jason Chen, a former vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., as its chief executive officer.

South Korea’s Kospi index rose 1 percent. Hyundai Merchant jumped 12 percent to 11,300 won in Seoul this week. Hyundai Group, with businesses from shipping to stock broking, will sell assets including three financial units as part of restructuring plans, it said in an e-mail on Dec. 22. The sale would help the group raise cash, easing shareholders’ concerns, according to Kim Min Ji, an analyst at E*Trade Securities Co.

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