Asian Stocks Head for Two-Month High After ECB Unveils Stimulus

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index set for its highest close in two months, after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi unveiled an expanded stimulus plan.

WorleyParsons Ltd., Australia’s biggest oil and gas engineer, jumped 9.3 percent to lead gains on the regional gauge after winning a contract in Canada. Robotics manufacturer Yaskawa Electric Corp. added 5.7 percent in Tokyo after raising its profit forecast and dividend. Teijin Ltd. climbed 5 percent after Nomura Holdings Inc. boosted its price target on the Japanese polyester maker. PetroChina Co. added 2.5 percent, pacing gains among energy producers, as crude futures rebounded.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.9 percent to 141.03 as of 4:02 p.m. in Hong Kong, heading for its highest close since Nov. 26. The gauge is set for a 2.6 percent gain this week, its biggest such advance since October. The ECB yesterday announced a 1.1 trillion euro ($1.2 trillion) asset-purchase plan, including private and public securities, while keeping benchmark interest rates at record lows.

“It’s quite pleasing to see them coming out with force,” said Nader Naeimi, who helps manage about $125 billion as Sydney-based head of dynamic asset allocation at AMP Capital Investors. “Market expectations were high and Draghi managed to surprise even the highest of expectations. It should help to stabilize European growth.”

Saudi Succession

Energy shares advanced as West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose as much as 3.1 percent to $47.76 after the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The kingdom, the world’s largest crude exporter, led OPEC’s decision to maintain its oil-production quota at a meeting in November, exacerbating a global glut that’s driven prices lower.

Japan’s Topix index climbed 1 percent, capping its first weekly advance this year. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.5 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index rose 1.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 1.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 1.3 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 0.8 percent. The nation’s economy expanded 0.4 percent in the three months through December from the previous quarter, matching the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey.

China Economy

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent. The gauge posted a 0.7 percent weekly decline, its first such slide in 11 weeks. A preliminary gauge of China’s factory activity for January suggested stimulus measures have helped stabilize the economy. The HSBC Holdings Plc/Markit Economics purchasing managers’ index unexpectedly climbed to 49.8 from a final reading of 49.6 the month before. Figures below 50 indicate contraction.

Mainland stocks were volatile this week, with the Shanghai gauge plunging 7.7 percent on Monday in reaction to new margin trading rules before paring its loss this week after the securities regulator said it wasn’t trying to curb equity trading.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.2 percent. The U.S. equity benchmark index added 1.5 percent yesterday, erasing this year’s losses, amid better-than-forecast earnings from KeyCorp and Southwest Airlines Co.

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