Most Asian Stocks Gain as Investors Weigh Company Results

Most Asian stocks advanced, with a surge in Hong Kong shares spurring a regional gauge to climb from a three-week low, as investors weighed company earnings.

LG Electronics Inc. added 3.9 percent in Seoul after the world’s No. 2 television maker posted first-quarter operating profit that almost doubled analyst estimates. Ping An Insurance Group Co. rose 1.7 percent in Hong Kong after China’s second-biggest insurer reported a 46 percent increase in quarterly profit. Sands China Ltd. fell 2.6 percent and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. slid 4.6 percent after analysts trimmed forecasts for growth in Macau gaming revenue this month.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index added 0.2 percent to 476.73 at 7:02 p.m. in Hong Kong. The gauge fell as much as 0.4 percent before rebounding as shares listed in Hong Kong rallied in their final 30 minutes of trading. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks traded in the city rose 1.2 percent, while the city’s benchmark index climbed 1.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.8 percent.

“The Chinese government has made it clear it will do what it takes to make sure the economy doesn’t slip too badly,” said Vasu Menon, vice president of wealth management at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore. “China risk is there but it has lessened quite significantly. The government has come through and shown it will act, so I’m less worried.”

China’s policy makers have supported expansion with steps such as reserve-ratio cuts for rural banks, while so far avoiding broader stimulus as Premier Li Keqiang chases a national growth target of about 7.5 percent.

Regional Gauges

Markets in Japan were closed today for a holiday. Taiwan’s Taiex index advanced 0.7 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 0.6 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.2 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.9 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.2 percent.

LG Electronics rose 3.9 percent to 71,700 won in Seoul, its highest price since September. The company said first-quarter operating profit almost doubled to 504 billion won ($489 million), compared with the 285.4 billion-won average of 26 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Ping An Insurance climbed 1.7 percent to HK$58.45 in Hong Kong after reporting yesterday that first-quarter profit increased 46 percent to 10.8 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) as premium income and banking revenue grew and investment returns climbed. Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. advanced 7 percent to HK$8.14 as first-quarter net income soared 78 percent to 849.2 million yuan.

Share Declines

Among shares that fell, miners declined as gold futures slipped and iron-ore retreated to a seven-week low. Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s biggest gold producer, slid 3.1 percent to A$10.41 in Sydney. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., Australia’s third-largest iron-ore producer, lost 2.3 percent to A$5.

Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. lost 4.6 percent to HK$86.80, Sands China fell 2.6 percent to HK$57.90 and Galaxy Entertainment declined 4.6 percent to HK$62.30. Brokerages including Wells Fargo & Co. cut forecasts for April gaming revenue in Macau.

Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co. tumbled 12 percent to HK$14.10, its biggest slump since May 2012, after the drugmaker reported lower quarterly profit.

“We’ve seen mixed results during this earnings season and the geopolitical situation, particularly in Ukraine, doesn’t seem to get any better,” Tim Schroeders, a Melbourne-based money manager who helps oversee $1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd., said by phone. “Investors are justifiably cautious.”

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak is among 15 people the European Union added to its list of those sanctioned to protest Russia’s actions in Ukraine, according to a statement published today in the EU’s Official Journal. The U.S. yesterday named seven individuals, including Igor Sechin, chief executive officer of oil giant OAO Rosneft, and 17 companies linked to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle such as InvestCapitalBank and Volga Group.

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