Asian Stocks Rise as U.S. Payrolls Ease Stimulus Concerns

Asian stocks outside Japan rose the most in eight weeks after slower growth in U.S. payrolls eased concern the Federal Reserve will accelerate cuts to stimulus.

Newcrest Mining Ltd., an Australian gold producer, advanced 6.1 percent as the precious metal climbed after the U.S. jobs data. Dongbu Steel Co. jumped 15 percent in Seoul, the highest close in seven months, after the Maeil Business newspaper reported companies are interested in buying one of its factories and a stake in Dongbu Metal Co. Hyundai Motor Co. climbed 3.2 percent as consumer discretionary firms posted the largest gains among the 10 industry groups on the regional benchmark index.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index rose 0.8 percent to 460.76 as of 7:34 p.m. in Hong Kong, with all 10 industry groups gaining. Markets in Japan are closed for a holiday today. U.S. employers hired 74,000 workers in December, the weakest growth since January 2011, indicating a pause in the recent strength of the labor market that may partly reflect the effects of bad weather.

“Equities markets liked the payrolls report because it means the pace of tapering could possibly be a bit slower than expected,” Keith Poore, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. in Wellington, which manages about $130 billion, said by phone. “Tapering will continue if economic growth pans out as we are expecting, which is for a gradual improvement. The economy is going to improve and ultimately that is going to be good for growth assets like equities.”

Regional Gauges

South Korea’s Kospi index gained 0.5 percent as Hyundai Motor climbed 3.2 percent to 228,000 won. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.4 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.7 percent. India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index rose 1.8 percent, the most in seven weeks.

Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite Index advanced 3.2 percent, completing the biggest increase since Sept. 19, after the country introduced a less stringent law prohibiting raw mineral exports. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a rule that will still allow shipments by more than 60 companies, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said Jan. 11.

Thailand’s SET Index gained 2.2 percent, erasing losses of as much as 0.9 percent. Protesters blocked major roads in Bangkok as part of their bid to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office. They also want to scrap an election planned for Feb. 2. The government has said it will deploy 20,000 soldiers and police to combat the blockade.

Taiwan’s Taiex index increased 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.2 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.3 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan index trades at 11.9 times estimated earnings, compared with 15.6 on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Futures

Futures on the S&P 500 slipped 0.3 percent today after the equity gauge climbed 0.6 percent last week. Three rounds of monetary stimulus from the Fed helped push the S&P 500 Index 172 percent higher through Jan. 10 from a 12-year low in 2009.

The U.S. jobless rate unexpectedly fell last month, dropping to 6.7 percent from 7 percent, the Jan. 10 payrolls report showed. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted the rate would be unchanged in December.

The Fed announced in December a $10 billion cut to monthly asset purchases amid signs of recovery in the U.S. job market. Policy makers will trim stimulus in $10 billion increments over the next seven Fed meetings before ending them in December, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists Dec. 19.

Gold producers advanced as the price of the precious metal traded at its highest level in a month. Newcrest gained 6.1 percent to A$8.87 in Sydney. Beadell Resources Ltd. climbed 5.1 percent to 82 Australian cents. Evolution Mining Ltd. rose 6.8 percent to 63 Australian cents.

Steelmaker Soars

Dongbu Steel jumped 15 percent to 3,240 won in Seoul. South Korea’s largest steelmaker Posco isn’t considering buying Dongbu assets, spokesman Jeong Yong Min said by phone today, in response to Bloomberg queries on an earlier report by Maeil Business newspaper.

Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., the nation’s biggest producer of the light metal, surged 7 percent to HK$2.77 in Hong Kong, the biggest daily gain since September 2012, after returning to profit last year as it cut costs and sold assets to its parent.

Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd. climbed 4.8 percent to HK$7.91 in Hong Kong after the drug developer said it will sell HK$53.4 million ($6.9 million) of new shares at HK$7.55 each.

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