Asian Stocks Gain as Hang Seng Index Rises to 2008 High

Asian stocks rose after confidence in the U.S. housing industry climbed to the highest level in seven months and tension eased over global political conflicts. Hong Kong shares climbed to a six-year high.

Amcor Ltd. rallied 4.6 percent in Sydney as the packaging firm posted earnings that topped analyst estimates. Terumo Corp. advanced 3.5 percent after Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded shares of the Japanese medical-equipment maker. The Hang Seng Index closed above 25,000 for the first time since May 2008. Don Quijote Holdings Co. sank 3.7 percent in Tokyo, the largest drop on the regional benchmark gauge, after the discount-store owner forecast little change in profit.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.7 percent to 148.99 as of 8:23 p.m. in Hong Kong, with all 10 of its industry groups rising. The gauge jumped 2.7 percent last week, the most in four months, as concern eased over global conflicts from Ukraine to Gaza and Iraq. A measure of U.S. homebuilder sentiment yesterday showed confidence rose in August, indicating the industry is making more headway as the Federal Reserve watches economic data to help gauge adjustments to monetary stimulus.

“Improvements in the situation in Eastern Europe and better homebuilder sentiment has heightened optimism,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research at Perpetual Ltd. in Sydney, which manages about $29 billion, said in an e-mail. “U.S. activity is progressively improving.”

Regional Gauges

Japan’s Topix index, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index all rose 0.7 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index jumped 1.1 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index and South Korea’s Kospi index both gained 0.9 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index and India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index advanced 0.1 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks traded in the city added 0.3 percent. The H-share gauge rose 20 percent from this year’s low in March through yesterday amid speculation China will add stimulus to meet its growth forecast.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.2 percent after the underlying gauge rose 0.9 percent yesterday. An S&P index of stocks of U.S. homebuilders gained 2.1 percent to the highest in three weeks. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed to a 14-year high.

Israel and Palestinian militants agreed to extend their five-day truce by 24 hours. In Iraq, Kurdish and government forces retook the nation’s largest dam from rebels. The Red Cross is close to working out details of a safe-passage plan for a Russian aid convoy intended for southeastern Ukraine. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin met Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for more than five hours of talks in Berlin as they sought to ease tensions.

Builder Confidence

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo sentiment measure climbed to 55 from 53 in July, the highest level in seven months.

The MSCI Asia Pacific index traded at 13.6 times estimated earnings at the last close compared with 16.5 for the S&P 500 and 15.1 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Amcor advanced 4.6 percent to A$10.75 in Sydney after reporting net income of A$564.8 million ($527.4 million), topping the A$560 million average forecast of analysts.

Dick Smith Holdings Ltd. surged 8.8 percent to A$2.17 after the Australian electronics retailer said it will open about 20 stores next year.

China Medical System Holdings Ltd. surged 8.8 percent to a record HK$10.94 in Hong Kong after the maker of pharmaceutical equipment said net income in the first half climbed 31 percent from a year earlier.

Casino Gains

Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. rose 3.4 percent to HK$61.90. The Macau casino operator that made Lui Che Woo a billionaire reported second-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates as mass-market gamblers offset a slowdown in high rollers’ wagers.

Terumo climbed 3.5 percent to 2,596 yen in Tokyo. Credit Suisse upgraded the shares to outperform from neutral, citing an expected improvement in profit margins at its hospital business as costs are cut.

Don Quijote slipped 3.7 percent to 5,510 yen after projecting operating profit of 34.8 billion yen for the current fiscal year. That’s less than than the 37.7 billion estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

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