Asian Stocks Advance Second Week Before U.S. Jobs Report

Asia’s benchmark stock index rose for a second straight week, with the gauge swinging between gains and losses amid low trading volume today as investors awaited data on U.S. jobs growth.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped less than 0.1 percent to 138.97 as of 5:43 p.m. in Hong Kong. It rose 1.7 percent for the week. The measure yesterday capped a seventh straight advance, its longest winning streak this year, after a private report showed stronger-than-forecast growth in U.S. employment in March. The government’s nonfarm payrolls data due today will show that hiring increased last month by the most since November, economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Barring something out of left field, a nothing sort of day is on the cards,” Tony Farnham, a Perth-based analyst at Paterson Securities Ltd., said in an e-mail.

Asian shares got a boost for a second week as Japanese stocks rebounded from last quarter’s slump and Hong Kong equities surged after China outlined economic stimulus plans. The Hang Seng Index rose 2 percent this week.

Japan’s Topix index slid 0.1 percent today, paring its weekly advance to 2.5 percent. The value of securities traded on the gauge was the lowest since October. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.2 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed and South Korea’s Kospi index retreated 0.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.2 percent.

Tencent Drops

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.2 percent, led by Tencent Holdings Ltd., Asia’s largest listed Internet firm. The shares slid 3.9 percent to HK$525 today to cap their first back-to-back weekly loss since November. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies traded in Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent today. China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.7 percent with trading volume 25 percent lower than the 30-day average.

Tencent has lost 17 percent since March 6, after a 1,266 percent surge during the previous five years sent its price-to-earnings ratio to a six-year high.

“Tencent has been totally loved,” said Stuart Beavis, head of institutional equity derivatives at Vantage Capital Markets in Hong Kong. “Stocks can’t go up forever. Investors are probably looking at what Tencent’s true valuation is.”

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index slid 1.4 percent yesterday in New York. Tarena International Inc. rose as much as 20 percent in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, the first Chinese company to debut in New York this year. It closed 0.7 percent higher.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures gained 0.2 percent today. The U.S. equities benchmark slipped 0.1 percent yesterday, from a record, as consumer and technology shares slumped.

Payrolls Projection

U.S. employers probably added 200,000 people to nonfarm payrolls last month, according to the median of 90 economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg, the most since a 274,000 increase in November and up from the 175,000 workers added in February. Data yesterday showed an uptick in jobless claims, with the number of people filing for unemployment benefits in the U.S. rising to a five-week high of 326,000, exceeding the median forecast for 319,000.

The Asia-Pacific stock gauge traded at 12.6 times estimated earnings, compared with 16.1 for the S&P 500 and 14.8 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

LG Innotek Co. climbed 5.8 percent to 109,500 won in Seoul, a three-year high, as Samsung Securities Co. lifted its price-estimate on shares of the phone-parts maker by 27 percent.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.