Asian stocks rose this week after US jobless claims fell and a manufacturing gauge unexpectedly gained, boosting optimism demand from the world's largest economy will help exporters such as Nissan Motor Co and Advantest Corp.
\n"We are expecting some rebound in export-related stocks as demand recovers and data suggests US economic growth may be sustainable," said Masanao Yoshitake, who helps manage US$2.5 billion in Japanese equities at Meiji Dresdner Asset Management Co in Tokyo.
\nThe Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia Pacific Index, which tracks more than 800 stocks in the region, added 2.2 this week, its third weekly gain.
\nAll other benchmarks in Asia rose for the week, except for those in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
\nJapan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.4 percent to 11,815.95, its third weekly gain.
\nThe TAIEX had its biggest jump since the five days ended Nov. 8, 2002. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index had its first weekly advance in five.
\nThe MSCI Asia Pacific gained 11 percent in the first quarter on optimism a US-led economic recovery will fuel demand for Asian-made goods.
\nAn industry report yesterday showed Singaporean manufacturing rose, while the South Korean government earlier in the week said exports in March climbed to a record.
\nIn February, Japan recorded its fastest export growth to the US in more than a year, while Hong Kong's total shipments surged almost a third.
\nUS stock benchmarks had their biggest weekly gains in at least six months, led by a 5 percent advance in the NASDAQ Composite Index, after a government report showed the economy added 308,000 jobs in March, the most in almost four years.
\nThe Standard & Poor's 500 added 3 percent this week and had its first weekly gain in four.
\nThe Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.5 percent. The increases in the S&P 500 and Dow were the biggest since the five days ended Oct. 3. The NASDAQ's weekly gain was the biggest since the week ended May 30.
\nJapan's Topix index gained 0.7 percent to 1184.20 this week.
\nExports accounted for a quarter of Japan's 6.4 percent annual pace of growth in the fourth quarter.
\nOn Friday, Nissan climbed 1.5 percent to 1,160 yen. The nation's third-largest automaker gets about 80 percent of its operating profit in North America. Toyota Motor Corp, the biggest automaker by market value, rose 1.1 percent to ¥3,780.
\nShares of the two carmakers also advanced after an Autodata Corp report showed that they paced sales gains the US, the world's largest auto market, last month, as Asian automakers' market share rose for a 13th month in 14. Nissan's sales in the US rose 30 percent, while revenue at Toyota grew 5.5 percent.
\nYesterday's report from the US Labor Department showed that the increase in workers was more than double the forecast and the most since April 2000.
\nEarlier, the department said the number of Americans filing initial jobless claims fell last week to 342,000, below the average for the first three months of the year.
\n"Unemployment seems to be falling, so I would expect an improvement in the job market" in the US, said Stella Lau, who helps manage US$1 billion at East Asia Asset Management Co in Hong Kong. "Economic growth picking up will give a better back drop for equity markets."
\nSeparately, the Institute for Supply Management's factory index yesterday rose to 62.5 in March, above the reading of 59.5 expected by economists in a Bloomberg News survey.
\nComputer-related companies, which account for almost a quarter of Japan's exports, also advanced. NEC Corp climbed 3.4 percent to ¥877. Japan's largest personal-computer maker gets a third of its sales from abroad.
\nAdvantest advanced 3.7 percent to ¥8,980. The world's biggest maker of equipment used to test computer memory chips expects a twofold gain in operating profit this fiscal year because of rising sales, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported.
\nThe TAIEX gained 0.3 percent to 6545.54. It added 6.7 percent this week. United Microelectronics Corp (
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