Most Asian Stocks Advance After Fed as Investors Weigh Earnings

Most Asian stocks advanced after the Federal Reserve said it will end its asset-purchase program amid signs of a strengthening economy and as investors analyzed earnings reports from some of the region’s biggest companies.

Samsung Electronics Co. jumped 4.5 percent in Seoul after the world’s biggest smartphone maker said fourth-quarter profit will increase. Renesas Electronics Corp. surged 5.4 percent in Tokyo after the semiconductor manufacturer announced job cuts and earnings that topped estimates. Cnooc Ltd., China’s largest offshore oil and gas producer, slumped 4.5 percent, dragging Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lower, after third-quarter sales declined and a lower crude price eroded earnings.

Markets in China and Japan climbed. About three stocks rose for every two that fell on the U.S. dollar-denominated MSCI Asia Pacific Index, which slipped 0.4 percent to 140.02 at 4:05 p.m. in Hong Kong, as the greenback strengthened.

“In the near term markets may become more volatile,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research at Perpetual Ltd. in Sydney, which manages about $29 billion, wrote in an e-mail. “Will the U.S. economy strengthen enough in the period ahead to justify the rise in shares prices and valuations? A robust and broadening U.S. economic expansion is the best foundation” for any global sharemarket rally.

The Fed retained its commitment to keep interest rates low for a “considerable time” as it ended a two-day policy meeting. Officials said labor market conditions “improved somewhat further,” and that a range indicators suggests that “underutilization of labor resources is gradually diminishing,” modifying earlier language that referred to “significant underutilization.”

Fed Reaction

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index jumped 0.4 percent after the underlying gauge closed 0.1 percent lower yesterday. It slid as much as 0.8 percent after the Fed’s policy statement before trimming the drop.

Japan’s Topix index gained 0.7 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.8 percent, to the highest since February 2013. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index declined 0.1 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.5 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed.

More than 140 companies in the Asia-Pacific gauge were scheduled to report earnings today. Since the start of this month, 52 percent of firms on the index that reported quarterly results have exceeded profit forecasts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Federal Open Market Committee ignored the global economic slowdown and regional conflicts that have roiled equity markets, while raising its assessment of an economy that has generated a monthly average of more than 200,000 jobs this year, driving unemployment down to a six-year low.

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