Sun, Aug 04, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Asia stocks rise for sixth week on global optimism

TRAILING TOKYO:Japan led the regional advance, with the Nikkei seeing its biggest jump in a month and more than half of TOPIX-listed firms beating profit forecasts

Bloomberg and AFP, HONG KONG

Asian shares rose this week, driving the regional benchmark index to its sixth week of gains, as global manufacturing reports beat forecasts and central banks vowed to maintain stimulus.

Hitachi Metals Ltd soared 20 percent after forecasting that its net income will more than double, while Genting Malaysia Bhd, the casino operator controlled by billionaire Lim Kok Thay, jumped 13 percent. Fanuc Corp gained 9.5 percent after the Japanese robotics maker’s orders beat estimates and AIA Group Ltd, the second-largest Asia-based insurer by market value, advanced 3.6 percent after reporting net income climbed to a record US$1.93 billion in the six months to May. Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, fell 1.3 percent as profit missed expectations.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index edged up 0.1 percent this week to 135.59, climbing for the sixth straight week with more than two stocks gaining for every one that fell. Six of the 10 industry groups on the measure rose on the week. Japan’s market drove the advance as the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average posted a 2.4 percent increase, its biggest jump in a month.

“As the yen continues to weaken, profit at Japanese exporters will improve. That should drive earnings upgrades, boosting the share market,” said Daphne Roth, Singapore-based head of Asia equity research at ABN Amro Private Bank. “The market will remain volatile as investors await Japan’s economic reforms.”

The TAIEX fell 0.6 percent to finish at 8,099.88, compared with 8,149.40 on July 26. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) rose 0.39 percent to NT$76.9 on Friday, while smartphone maker HTC Corp (宏達電) fell 3.7 percent to NT$143.0.

Elsewhere, Japan’s TOPIX gained 2.5 percent to 1,196.17 for the week, as the yen weakened against the US dollar, boosting the earnings outlook for the country’s exporters. Of the 183 companies on the measure that have posted quarterly results and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 58 percent beat projections.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 1 percent after China’s government moved to alleviate a cash crunch as economic growth slows. The nation’s central bank injected funds into markets through reverse-repurchase agreements for the first time since February.

South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.7 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.5 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed for the week.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 1.3 percent last month after China pledged to do more to support a transition from reliance on exports to domestic demand in the world’s second- largest economy. Shares on the gauge traded at 13.2 times estimated earnings as of Friday, compared with multiples of 15.5 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.8 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index.

The index reversed declines from earlier in the week after the US Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee, which has floated the prospect of reductions to its US$85 billion of monthly bond purchases should economic risks abate, said on Wednesday that while growth should pick up, persistently low inflation may hamper the recovery.

Factory output from the US to China and Europe expanded last month, reports showed on Thursday, while US jobless claims fell to a five-year low. The data came as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said interest rates will probably remain low for an extended period and after the Fed retained its US$85 billion-a-month bond-buying program.

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