Financials Lead Asia Stocks to Biggest Weekly Gain in Two Months

Asian stocks rose to a six-month high, with the regional index on course for its best weekly advance in two months, as financial shares led gains.

Ping An Insurance (Group) Co., China’s second-biggest insurer, rose to the highest in more than four years in Hong Kong after saying profit jumped 40 percent last year. Nippon Yusen K.K. rose 1.1 percent as gains at Japanese shipping companies pushed the Topix index to its longest weekly winning streak in two years.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1 percent to 146.97 as of 4:11 p.m. in Hong Kong. The measure, which closed yesterday at its highest since Sept. 9, climbed 2.1 percent this week after the Federal Reserve said data suggest U.S. economic growth has moderated and officials indicated interest rates will rise at a slower pace than previously forecast.

“Asian equity bourses have had very flat moves today,” said Chris Weston, Melbourne-based strategist at IG Ltd., which provides trading services in equities, currencies and commodities. This week “bad news meant good news for equity bulls and, as we have learnt time and time again, liquidity trumps economic improvement.”

While policy makers at the Fed ponder when to begin raising interest rates, the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan continue with stimulus programs aimed at staving off deflation and igniting growth. Central banks from Australia to South Korea have reduced borrowing costs this year as part of a global wave of monetary easing.

Japan’s Topix index added 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index was little changed and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.4 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.2 percent.

The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1 percent to its highest level since 2008. Combined trading values on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges surpassed 1 trillion yuan ($161 billion) every day for the past three days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent. The underlying gauge retreated Thursday as banks slid and energy companies slumped with the price of oil.

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