Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index recording its biggest weekly gain in almost five months, on optimism that central banks from China to the US would take new steps to fuel growth tempered concerns Europe’s debt crisis would worsen.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 2.4 percent to 114.16 this week, the most in almost five months, before elections today that may determine Greece’s future in the euro.
The gauge has dropped more than 11 percent from its peak this year on Feb. 29 amid concern growth is slowing in China and the US and as European policy makers failed to stem concern about the debt crisis.
“There’s quite a high chance that the US may do more easing,” said Terrace Chum, a Hong-Kong based fund manager at Manulife Asset Management. “People are expecting an interest-rate cut in China. There is expectation that Greece may not part from the European Union, but all these could turn around very quickly.”
Gains in stocks were limited on concern about Europe’s debt crisis. Spanish bond yields surged the most in four months as the government sought a bailout of 100 billion euros (US$125 billion) for its banks.
Companies linked to the US advanced after data on Thursday showed more US nationals applied for jobless benefits and consumer prices dropped by the most in three years, giving the US Federal Reserve room to spur growth. A policy meeting is scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Li & Fung (利豐) rallied 5.9 percent to HK$15.20 this week. Honda Motor Co, a Japanese carmaker that derives more than 40 percent of its sales in North America, gained 1.7 percent to ￥2,533 in Tokyo.
The Shanghai Composite Index increased 1.1 percent this week, after data showed China’s consumer prices increased the least in two years lat month and industrial output and retail sales trailed estimates, adding pressure for more stimulus after the first interest-rate cut in three years.
Komatsu climbed 2.3 percent to ￥1,885 this week. Sino-Ocean Land Holdings Ltd (遠洋地產), a real-estate developer in China, surged 16 percent to HK$3.75.
Taiwan’s TAIEX gained 2.2 percent this week, its biggest increase in six weeks. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 1.3 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI rose 1.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slid 0.2 percent.
Energy companies gained the most among the regional equity gauge’s 10 industry groups as crude oil for delivery rose on OPEC’s call for members to cut production in excess of quotas.
PetroChina Co (中國石油天然氣), China’s largest oil company, advanced 4 percent to HK$10.52 this week in Hong Kong. SK Innovation Co, South Korea’s largest refiner, soared 11 percent to 149,000 won in Seoul.
In other markets:
Manila closed 1.8 percent, or 90.22 points, lower at 4,930.63.
Wellington rose 0.91 percent, or 30.99 points, to 3,447.07.