Asian Stocks Pare Weekly Loss as Phone, Materials Shares Climb

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Asian stocks rose a second day, with the regional benchmark paring its weekly drop, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index erased its 2015 loss on global stimulus optimism. Communications and materials shares led gains.

China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. jumped 5.3 percent after Macquarie Group Ltd. raised its rating for the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner and Australia’s top oil producer, advanced 2.8 percent as metals and crude rose. LG Chem Ltd. surged 6.3 percent in Seoul on a report it will supply batteries for Hyundai Motor Co.’s electric cars. Infosys Ltd. gained 4.9 percent after the Indian software company’s earnings beat estimates on more orders.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.7 percent to 137.39 as of 4:06 p.m. in Hong Kong, heading for a weekly decline of 0.4 percent. Crude extending its retreat into 2015 helped wipe about $1.7 trillion off global equity values over the first six days of the year. Stocks rebounded as a drop in euro-area consumer prices fueled speculation the European Central Bank will bolster stimulus efforts and after the Federal Reserve signaled no change in its approach to rates in minutes of its December meeting.

“While we are likely to see more volatility going forward, the rally looks sustainable on expectations easy money will continue for some time,” Tim Radford, a strategist at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, said by phone. “The Fed can afford to hold back raising interest rates given the low inflation, especially with cheaper oil prices. Should the ECB come out with a large-scale quantitative easing, that will further support equities.”

Regional Gauges

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.6 percent, with energy stocks leading gains after crude extended its rebound. Japan’s Topix index and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index each climbed 0.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.4 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index lost 0.2 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.4 percent.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.2 percent after rising as much as 3.4 percent, with the gauge erasing gains in the final 30 minutes of trading after slumping 2.4 percent the day before. The benchmark rallied 61 percent in the 12 months through yesterday, the best performer among 93 global indexes tracked by Bloomberg, amid speculation the government will further ease policy to support growth. Data today showed China factory-gate prices in December fell the most in two years as commodity prices tumbled, allowing room for more stimulus.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index slid 0.2 percent. The gauge advanced 1.8 percent yesterday on speculation central banks in Europe and Japan will support growth even as the U.S. economy shows signs of strength. U.S. payrolls data are due today.