Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index capping the biggest weekly gain in seven months as the yen traded near ￥100 per US dollar and slower-than-estimated inflation in China eased concern about monetary policy tightening.
BHP Billiton Ltd, a mining company that gets 30 percent of its revenue in China, advanced 3.4 percent in Sydney. Toyota Motor Corp jumped 11 percent even after defective airbag inflators led Japan’s three biggest carmakers, including Toyota, to recall more than 3 million vehicles. China Southern Airlines Co (中國南方航空) rose 3.6 percent in Hong Kong after a slump last week on concern an outbreak of bird flu in China would hurt travel demand.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 3.5 percent to 138.17 this week, the biggest weekly gain since the period ended on Sept. 14 last year. The measure on Thursday closed at its highest level since August 2011.
Japan’s TOPIX rallied 7.7 percent in its best week since December 2009, with the Bank of Japan reiterating a pledge to continue stimulus.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rallied 6.8 percent this year amid optimism Japan will deploy more stimulus and that policymakers in the US and China remain on standby to support growth. Asia’s benchmark trades at 14 times average estimated earnings, compared with 14.4 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.6 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The TAIEX slid 1.5 percent this week after capping the biggest drop in 10 months on Monday.
On Friday, the index fell 0.46 percent, or 36.35 points, to 7,821.63, with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (鴻海精密) dropping 2.36 percent to NT$78.60, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) was down 0.99 percent at NT$100.50.
In other markets, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 1.7 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.8 percent as data on Wednesday showed that China’s consumer price index rose 2.1 percent last month from a year earlier.
South Korea’s KOSPI dipped 0.2 percent as foreigners sold shares amid concerns that North Korea would conduct a missile test. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 2.5 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index slipped 0.2 percent.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) has signaled that his government will take steps this year to loosen state control over interest rates as part of efforts to sustain economic growth.
China’s imports rose by a better-than-forecast 14.1 percent last month, while export growth slowed to 10 percent from a year earlier, the Chinese General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday.
Separately, new local currency loans last month were 1.06 trillion yuan (US$171 billion), the People’s Bank of China said on Thursday, beating a 900 billion yuan median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
Companies that do business in China and are sensitive to growth rose. BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miner, gained 3.4 percent to A$33.35, the first weekly advance since the period ended on Feb. 15. Rio Tinto Group, Australia’s second-largest miner by market value, added 2.3 percent to A$56.90.
Japanese stocks rallied as the yen dropped and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Wednesday reiterated a pledge to achieve a 2 percent inflation target within two years.
Toyota Motor, the world’s biggest carmaker, soared 11 percent to ￥5,660, as video game console maker Nintendo Co jumped 10 percent to ￥11,400. Komatsu Ltd, a construction machinery maker that gets 80 percent of its revenue outside Japan, surged 14 percent to ￥2,505.