Asian Stocks Rise as Japanese Shares Rally, China Pares Decline

  • Oil resumes drop after Tuesday gains bolster U.S. stocks
  • Focus turns to monetary policy amid central bank meetings

Asian stocks rose as Japanese equities rallied ahead of monetary policy decisions by the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan, while Chinese shares pared losses.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index jumped 1.7 percent to 119.81 as of 4:18 p.m. in Hong Kong, while Japan’s Topix index surged 3 percent. The regional gauge is heading for a 9.2 percent decline this month as concern about a slowdown in China and a rout in oil and other commodities sent shares tumbling. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rebounded 1.4 percent on Tuesday as investors focused on a one-day gain in crude and better-than-forecast earnings.

“We could see a short-term rally,” Angus Nicholson, an analyst at IG Markets Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “A lot of the markets around are trading at such low levels that they tend to draw buyers back into the market. We won’t be calling a bottom just yet. We’re probably going to see weak economic data from China in the first quarter and that’s going to add pressure on oil prices.”

The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.5 percent, extending Tuesday’s 6.4 percent plunge. The gauge recouped most of its earlier losses, after plunging as much as 4.1 percent. Profits of China’s industrial enterprises fell 4.7 percent in December from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday in Beijing. That compared with a 1.4 percent drop in November and was the third-biggest decline in more than three years, based on previously reported NBS data since 2011.

U.S. Futures

E-mini futures on the S&P 500 dropped 0.7 percent. After U.S. cash markets closed, Apple Inc. forecast a decline in sales for the first time in more than a decade, adding to evidence that the market for smartphones is becoming saturated and that expansion in China is no longer enough to maintain the company’s unprecedented run of growth.

Oil resumed its decline Wednesday near $30 a barrel after U.S. industry data showed crude stockpiles increased, exacerbating a global glut. Futures slid as much as 3.7 percent in New York.

South Korea’s Kospi index rose 1.4 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index added 0.3 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 1 percent

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 1.2 percent as it opened after a holiday. The nation’s core inflation accelerated last quarter, sending the currency higher as the central bank is unlikely to reduce interest rates in coming months. New Zealand’s benchmark gauge was little changed.

SoftBank Climbs

SoftBank Group Corp. paced gains among phone companies, surging 7 percent in Tokyo after its U.S. carrier Sprint Corp. reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss. Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd. climbed 6.5 percent in Hong Kong ahead of the release of fourth-quarter results by its parent Las Vegas Sands Corp. later today.

Daihatsu Motor Co. jumped 16 percent, the most since 1999, after its parent Toyota Motor Corp. said it’s considering buying the rest of the minicar maker. Suzuki Motor Corp. jumped 11 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported Toyota may align with the automaker to better compete in emerging markets, including India. Toyota rose 3.8 percent even as both companies denied they are in talks.

Investors will turn their focus to central bank policies in the days ahead, scouring the Fed’s Wednesday statement for the impact of January’s market turmoil on plans to raise interest rates four times in 2016. The prospect that central banks in Europe and Japan may bolster their already unprecedented stimulus underpinned some equity gains over the past two weeks, though volatile oil prices -- which remain near a 12-year low -- continue to unnerve traders.

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