Most Asian Stocks Rise as Investors Await U.S. Employment Report

  • Japan's Topix drops for third week as BOJ stimulus weighed
  • U.S. non-farm payrolls forecast to show 201,000 new jobs

Most Asian stocks rose, led by Chinese shares trading in Hong Kong, as investors awaited a monthly government report on U.S. jobs to gauge the strength of the world’s largest economy.

Great Wall Motor Co. surged 13 percent in Hong Kong to a two-month high as carmakers and developers climbed after China cut mortgage requirements and passenger-vehicle tax. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. jumped 10 percent after a report the government may unveil measures to support Macau tourism. Westpac Banking Corp. lost 2.1 percent as Australia’s largest lenders dragged on the regional equities gauge.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2 percent to 126 as of 4:14 p.m. in Hong Kong. The gauge touched a three-year low this week. Economists expect U.S. employers to have added about 201,000 workers in September after a gain of 173,000 in August. The data will factor into the Federal Reserve’s next rate decision, due Oct. 28, as the central bank also weighs global financial-market turmoil. The regional benchmark index is on course to rise 0.8 percent this week, with mainland Chinese markets currently shut for a weeklong holiday.

“The jobs report is definitely front and center,” Michael Cuggino, a San Francisco-based fund manager at Pacific Heights Asset Management LLC, told Bloomberg TV. “After that, people are going to quickly pivot to corporate earnings and the Fed, once again.”

Japan Stimulus

Japan’s Topix index gained 0.2 percent amid low trading volume, with rubber and paper producers climbing. Bank of Japan officials see little need for an immediate expansion of monetary stimulus and would prefer to hold off to get a clearer picture of the economic outlook, according to people familiar with their deliberations.

Board members who gather for a policy meeting Oct. 6-7 want the opportunity to observe further economic data and developments in financial markets at home and abroad, according to the people, who asked not to be named because talks are private.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 3.2 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in the city advanced 3 percent as trading resumed after a holiday and the government stepped up targeted support for the economy. China Resources Land Ltd. jumped 8.7 percent after the People’s Bank of China reduced the minimum home down payment for first-time buyers.

China Growth

Chinese policy makers are increasing targeted stimulus after five interest-rate reductions since November failed to reverse an economic slowdown. The decline in the property down-payment requirement was the first in five years, while the support measures for the auto industry follow five straight months of declining sales. The nation’s growth will slow to 6.8 percent this year, below the government’s goal of 7 percent, according to the median of economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“China is likely to roll out new policies in the fourth quarter,” said Hao Hong, chief China strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co. in Hong Kong. “We are looking for more fiscal stimulus, such as favorable tax treatment and industry-specific policies on property, auto, new energy and environmental protection. A short covering rally such as today will be strong but brief and difficult to trade. The rally tends to fizzle out once shorts have covered their position.”

U.S. Data

Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi index retreated 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index sank 1.2 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.1 percent. Markets in India are closed for a holiday.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.3 percent. The underlying gauge rose 0.2 percent in New York on Thursday, reversing a drop of as much as 1 percent.

American manufacturing barely grew in September. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 50.2, the weakest since May 2013, the Tempe, Arizona-based group reported Thursday. Fifty is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

The odds of a hike this month have held at or below 20 percent since policy makers decided to hold fire at their last meeting, citing weaker-than-hoped-for inflation and risks to global growth emanating from China. Traders are now pricing in a 44 percent probability of a rise in December and about 52 percent chance of a January liftoff.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected in the first paragraph to show that stocks fell.)

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