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Thursday, 6 December 2012
Asian Stocks Rise as Fewer Americans File Jobless Claims
By Jonathan Burgos - Dec 7, 2012 8:57 AM GMT+0400
Asian stocks climbed, with the regional benchmark index heading for its longest streak of weekly gains in three months, as fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits and Australia’s building industry shrank at a slower pace.
James Hardie Industries SE, a building materials supplier that gets about 67 percent of sales from the U.S., climbed 2.3 percent in Sydney. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s biggest lender, rose 0.7 percent. People’s Insurance Company (Group) of China Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest initial public offering in two years, jumped 6.9 percent in its trading debut.
A job seeker, right, speaks with a recruiter during a HIREvent job fair in San Jose, California, U.S. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Construction cranes stand on the Barangaroo redevelopment project as commercial buildings in the central business district tower over the site in Sydney, Australia. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) rose 0.3 percent to 126.14 as of 1:40 p.m. Tokyo time, with about five shares gaining for every four that fell. The measure is heading for a seven-day gain and its third week of advance, the longest winning streak since the period ended Aug. 17. Signs of recovery in the world’s two largest economies and optimism U.S. lawmakers will agree on a budget deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff have been boosting Asian equities.
“We could see a short-term rally, driven by exporters amid signs of improving U.S. economy,” said Masahiko Ejiri, a Tokyo- based fund manager for Mizuho Asset Management Co., which oversees about $45 billion. “This rally may not be sustained. Europe’s problems are likely to persist.”
The European Central Bank cut its growth and inflation forecasts for the monetary union and President Mario Draghisaid yesterday the region won’t start to shake off its slump until the second half of 2013, leaving the door ajar for further interest-rate reductions.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.8 percent. The nation’s building industry shrank at a slower place last month as the housing sector showed signs of recovery after the central bank lowered borrowing costs. A separate report showed the trade deficit widened less than economists predicted in October. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.5 percent.
South Korea’s Kospi Index rose 0.3 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average was little changed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 0.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.2 percent.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The gauge gained 0.3 yesterday as Apple Inc. rebounded from its biggest drop in four years and investors weighed prospects for a budget deal in Washington.
Jobless claims decreased by 25,000 to 370,000 in the week ended Dec. 1, Labor Department data showed. The median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 380,000.
Stocks linked to the U.S. climbed. James Hardie gained 2.3 percent to A$9.39 in Sydney. Sony Corp., the maker of Bravia televisions and PlayStation game consoles, rose 1.4 percent to 827 yen in Tokyo. Honda Motor Co. (7267), the Japanese carmaker that gets about 44 percent of sales from North America, added 1.1 percent to 2,776 yen.
Samsung Electronics Co., the Korean electronics maker that’s become the 15th largest company in the world, rose 2.1 percent to a record 1.485 million won in Seoul.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 15 percent through yesterday from this year’s low on June 4 as central banks added stimulus to spur economic growth. The benchmark index traded at 14.2 times estimated earnings, compared with 13.6 times for the S&P 500 Index and 12.6 times for the Stoxx Europe 600.
Australian lenders rose after a report by the Australian Industry Group and the Housing Industry Association showed the residential construction sector may be bottoming out. Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.7 percent to A$60.78. Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC), the nation’s second-biggest lender, added 1 percent to A$25.712. Boral Ltd., a producer of construction products, increased 1.6 percent to A$4.095.
PICC Group, which owns China’s biggest property insurer, gained 6.9 percent to HK$3.72 as it initiated trading in Hong Kong. The Beijing-based company raised HK$24 billion ($3.1 billion) last week, selling shares at HK$3.59 each, in Hong Kong’s biggest initial public offering in two years.
“The company has priced the stock at a relatively low level, leaving the IPO investors some room” to reap gains, said Olive Xia, a Shanghai-based analyst at Core Pacific-Yamaichi. “PICC Group also has a good chance in life insurance going forward” if it can improve its product mix and profitability to take advantage of its rapid premiums growth.
Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., South Korea’s biggest shipping company, jumped 3.6 percent to 23,150 won in Seoul after saying its studying the feasibility of building a liquefied natural gas terminal in Brazil.