Asian Stocks Rise After U.S. Manufacturing Gauge Climbs

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index rebounding from its biggest drop in two weeks, after a larger-than-forecast climb in a measure of U.S. manufacturing tempered concern about global growth.

Samsung Electronics Co., which will unveil a high-end Galaxy smartphone next week, advanced 3.4 percent in Seoul. Toyota Motor Corp. climbed 2.1 percent amid a rally in Japanese shares as the yen weakened against the dollar. National Australia Bank Ltd. lost 1.8 percent in Sydney after the country’s biggest lender by assets flagged a possible increase in provisions at its British operations.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.4 percent to 137.59 as of 8:13 p.m. in Hong Kong, extending this week’s advance to 1.7 percent. The gauge sank 1.3 percent yesterday as a preliminary reading of Chinese factory activity unexpectedly fell to a seven-month low. A U.S. manufacturing index jumped more than expected, a separate report showed yesterday.

“We are in the relatively optimistic camp on the U.S. economy,” David Cassidy, a Sydney-based strategist at UBS AG, said by phone. “Investors are positioned for an improving growth trend in the U.S. Earnings growth is getting better and that will be enough to lift the market further this year.”

Japan’s Topix index rose 2.3 percent today, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rallied 2.9 percent. Minutes from the Bank of Japan’s Jan. 22 policy meeting showed some board members said the central bank should provide a clearer explanation that an expected decline in second-quarter domestic growth was factored into its outlook.

The yen fell as much as 0.3 percent against the dollar today, boosting exporters’ shares. Toyota added 2.1 percent to 5,982 yen, and Honda Motor Co. gained 1.3 percent to 3,699 yen. Nikon Corp. rose 2.1 percent to 1,843 yen.

Regional Indexes

South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 1.4 percent as Samsung climbed 3.4 percent to 1.33 million won. Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.4 percent, while Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.9 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.5 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index increased 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.8 percent, and China’s Shanghai Composite slid 1.2 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 4 percent this year through yesterday. It traded yesterday at 12.7 times the estimated earnings of its constituent companies, compared with 15.6 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 14.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Of the 375 companies on the Asia-Pacific measure that have reported results since the start of the year, and for which Bloomberg compiles estimates, 53 percent have topped forecasts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Data

Futures on the S&P 500 advanced 0.2 percent today. The measure gained 0.6 percent yesterday after the Markit Economics preliminary index of U.S. factory activity increased to 56.7 in February, and data showed fewer applications for unemployment benefits last week. Facebook Inc.’s $19 billion purchase of messaging service WhatsApp Inc. fueled optimism about deals.

The Conference Board’s index of U.S. leading indicators, a gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months, rose in January in line with estimates.

Group of 20 finance ministers meet in Sydney this weekend, with U.S. stimulus cuts and political turmoil from Ukraine to Venezuela stoking concern over emerging-market volatility.

Investors have been dismissing lower-than-forecast U.S. economic data over the past two weeks, pointing to harsh winter weather as a reason for unexpected weakness in reports from housing to hiring. The Bloomberg ECO U.S. Surprise Index, which measures how much recent data has beaten or missed economists’ estimates, fell to minus 0.423 yesterday, the lowest since September 2011.

Stimulus Outlook

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen last week said the economy has strengthened enough to withstand continued cuts to monetary stimulus, adding that only a notable change in the outlook for the economy would prompt the central bank to slow the pace of tapering.

Crown Resorts Ltd. sank 3.2 percent to A$16.68. The gaming company controlled by billionaire James Packer posted first-half profit that missed analyst estimates as earnings from its Macau venture failed to offset weaker domestic spending.

National Australia Bank slid 1.8 percent to A$34.54. Provisions for some tailored business loans and compensation to U.K. customers for wrongly sold payment-protection insurance may rise, the Melbourne-based lender said in a statement today.

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