Asian Stocks Head for Five-Month High on Optimism About Greece

Asian stocks headed for a five-month high as investors speculated Greece will reach a compromise with its creditors. Energy shares led gains.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker, gained 2 percent in Tokyo as the biggest boost to the regional index. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. gained 4.7 percent in Hong Kong amid optimism China will merge state-owned oil producers. Noble Group Ltd. rebounded 1.9 percent in Singapore after rejecting a research report questioning its accounting practices. Toll Holdings Ltd. soared a record 47 percent after Japan Post Holdings Co. agreed to buy the Australian logistics company.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.7 percent to 144.15 as of 6:07 p.m. in Tokyo, poised for its highest close since Sept. 19.

“Most market participants assume that, unlike last time, even in the worst case scenario the problems in Greece won’t lead to a breakdown in the European financial system,” Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo, said by phone. “These assumptions are already being priced into the market.”

Greece may request an extension of its loan agreement for six months, according to a person familiar with the matter. Discussions aimed at finding common ground between the country and its European creditors ended on Feb. 16 without breaking an impasse. With no deal, Greece could run out of money by March may be forced to abandon the euro.

Japan’s Topix index advanced 1.4 percent as the yen held losses after weakening 0.7 percent against the dollar yesterday. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.2 percent, the highest since July 2007 and within 0.3 percent of a 15-year high.

BOJ Policy

The Bank of Japan today decided to maintain plans to boost the monetary base at an annual pace of 80 trillion yen ($670 billion) following a two-day policy meeting. All 35 economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast no change in policy.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2 percent during a shortened trading session ahead of the Lunar New year Holidays. Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.6 percent before also shutting early. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slipped 0.2 percent.

Exchanges in China and South Korea were closed for holidays from today. Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore reopen Monday, while mainland markets resume on Wednesday.

Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite Index rose 1 percent as if headed for a record. The rupiah fell after the central bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark rate to 7.5 percent from 7.75 percent after Tuesday’s close, a move not expected by any of the 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent after the underlying gauge reached a record for a second day.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its January meeting today. The central bank boosted its assessment of the economy and downplayed low inflation readings in its latest policy statement, even as it acknowledged global risks. Equities fell following the meeting.

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