Asian stocks rose, with a regional index advancing for the first time in five weeks, after Australia cut key interest rates by more than forecast and on signs manufacturing output in China and the US is improving.
“We’re quite optimistic about Asia,” Adrian Zuercher at Credit Suisse Asset Management in Hong Kong said. “It’s clear that China and the rest of Asia will be generating a higher growth rate compared to the rest of the world.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index gained 0.3 percent to 438.58 this week. Japanese markets were closed for holidays on three of the five days. The index fell each of the previous four weeks, the longest such streak since November, on concern Europe would struggle to contain its debt crisis amid increasing opposition to proposed austerity measures.
Taiwan’s TAIEX jumped 3 percent. However, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海), assembler of Apple Inc’s iPhone and iPad, retreated 9.4 percent to NT$90 after posting first-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.8 percent this week after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, more than most economists’ forecast.
Traders wager there is a 70 percent chance of an additional quarter-point cut next month, based on swaps data compiled by Bloomberg.
South Korea’s KOSPI gained 0.7 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 1.7 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 2.3 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, which includes Japan, slipped 0.2 percent this week. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.5 percent as the yen climbed for a second week. A stronger currency cuts the value of overseas earnings at Japanese exporters.
Exporters outside of Japan advanced as reports that showed China’s manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in a year last month and production at US factories unexpectedly rose, boosted confidence in the global economic recovery.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Ex-Japan Index has retreated 3.4 percent from this year’s peak at the beginning of March on speculation securities gains have outpaced the prospects for earnings growth.
Shares on the MSCI Asia Pacific Ex-Japan Index are valued at an average of 11.9 times estimated earnings, compared with 13.2 on the S&P’s 500 Index and 10.8 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index.
In other markets on Friday:
Manila closed flat, edging down 2.86 points from Thursday to 5,297.55.
Wellington ended 0.75 percent, or 26.93 points, lower from Thursday at 3,549.78.
Mumbai fell 1.87 percent, or 320.11 points, from Thursday to 16,831.08.