Asian Stocks Rise Fifth Day as Investors Weigh China Data

Asian stocks rose, posting their longest winning streak in six weeks, as information-technology companies advanced and investors assessed conflicting manufacturing data from China.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.3 percent to 138.41 at 6:29 p.m. in Tokyo, reversing losses of as much as 0.4 percent. The equity benchmark dropped 2.4 percent in the quarter that ended yesterday.

A private Chinese purchasing managers’ index fell to 48 in March, the lowest reading since July, from 48.5, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics Ltd. said today. The official gauge from the government, with a larger sample size, came in at 50.3 from 50.2 the previous month.

“State-owned enterprises are seeing a slowdown in growth, but it’s not as severe as small, mid-size enterprises,” said Khiem Do, Hong Kong-based head of Asian multi-asset strategy at Baring Asset Management Ltd., which oversees about $55 billion. Chinese policy makers “definitely understand the economy has been slowing and they are implementing a number of policies to stabilize growth between 7 percent and 7.5 percent. But it’s not a comprehensive stimulus package yet.”

The Chinese reports underscore what Premier Li Keqiang last week called “difficulties and risks” in the world’s second-largest economy as he tries to control surging debt and pollution shrouding cities across China. Li said the nation has policies in reserve to support growth after the cabinet said it would accelerate construction spending.

Tech, Casinos

Hermes Microvision Inc. surged 7 percent in Taipei, leading gains among information-technology stocks. Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. gained 4.6 percent in Hong Kong as investors welcomed the developer’s dividend and full-year earnings beat estimates. Sands China Ltd. and Galaxy Entertainment Group led gains in Hong Kong as a report showed Macau casino revenue rose 13 percent in March from a year earlier. Hokkaido Electric Power Co. slumped 10 percent in Tokyo on a report the Development Bank of Japan Inc. will inject 50 billion yen ($484 million) into the utility.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 1.3 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in the city added 0.2 percent.

Japan’s Topix index added 0.1 percent after falling as much as 0.4 percent. The nation’s sales tax increased to 8 percent from 5 percent today. The Tankan index of sentiment among large manufacturers was at 17 in March, climbing from 16 in December, a Bank of Japan report showed, below the median estimate of 19 in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The index is forecast to drop to 8 in June, worse than economists’ forecast of 13. The yen weakened 0.1 percent against the dollar after dropping 0.4 percent yesterday.

Australian Rates

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.1 percent as the nation’s central bank kept its overnight cash rate target at a record-low 2.5 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index dropped 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index and Taiwan’s Taiex index rose 0.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index increased 0.3 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Information Technology Index advanced 0.9 percent with Hermes Microvision, a maker of electron beam systems, soaring 7 percent to NT$1,305.

Evergrande Real Estate climbed 4.6 percent to HK$3.83. The company said yesterday it would pay a final dividend of 0.43 yuan per share after underlying profit in 2013 rose 66 percent from 2012.

Sands China

Sands China jumped 9.6 percent to HK$63.50 and Galaxy Entertainment added 7.9 percent to HK$72.80. The two shares rose the most in the Hang Seng Index. Macau casino revenue rose 13 percent from a year earlier to 35.5 billion patacas ($4.4 billion), according to data published on the website of the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

Hokkaido Electric slumped 10 percent to 781 yen in Tokyo after the Nikkei newspaper reported the government-owned Development Bank of Japan will buy preferred shares in the utility.

Hokkaido Electric is in talks with the bank on ways to raise funds, the company said in a statement, denying that it had asked for investment. A 50 billion yen injection wouldn’t be enough to dispel concern about the financial strength of the power producer, Citigroup Inc. said in a report.

Prana Biotechnology Ltd. plunged 74 percent to 27.5 Australian cents after the biotechnology company’s experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease failed to help patients in a trial.

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