Sun, Aug 17, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Asian stocks rise on ongoing stimulus bets

Bloomberg

Asian stocks rose, with the regional index headed for its best weekly rally since March, as investors weighed earnings, Ukraine developments and economic data that fueled bets that central banks will maintain stimulus.

Parkson Retail Group Ltd, which operates department stores in China, soared 13 percent in Hong Kong after its first-half profit beat estimates, while China Mobile Ltd (中國移動), the world’s largest phone company by users, climbed 5.8 percent after saying it will cut US$2 billion from device subsidies.

James Hardie Industries PLC, an Australian building materials supplier, fell 7.2 percent after reporting profit plunged, as BHP Billiton Ltd gained 2.3 percent in Sydney after the world’s biggest mining firm said it may spinoff assets next week.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1 percent to 147.97 as of 4:07pm in Hong Kong after falling 0.1 percent. The gauge is headed for a 2.7 percent rally this week, the most since the period ended on March 28.

Of the companies on the Asian stock gauge that released results from the start of last month through Thursday and for which Bloomberg had estimates, 54 percent beat earnings expectations.

The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 13.6 times estimated earnings at the last close compared with 16.4 for the S&P 500 and 15.1 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In Taipei, the TAIEX rallied 1.3 percent from Aug. 8, following a 3.7 percent decline over the previous 10 sessions. Global funds bought US$83.3 million more local shares than they sold this week.

“Investors aren’t expecting the [US] Fed[eral Reserve] to raise interest rates that quickly, so funds are moving into risky assets,” Ta Chong Bank Ltd (大眾銀行) economist Forest Chen (陳秀宜) said. “Taiwan’s stocks had a huge correction earlier, so this may be a good time to buy again. Foreign investors are still entering emerging markets.”

The TAIEX fell 0.26 percent, or 23.8 points, to 9,206.81 on Friday.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (鴻海精密) lost 1.38 percent to NT$107.5 on Friday, as HTC Corp (宏達電) rose 0.4 percent to NT$127.

Japan’s TOPIX was little changed at 1,270.68 on Friday to post a 3.5 percent increase this week, the most since the period ended on April 18.

Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 0.6 percent to the highest close since Nov. 8, 2010, and briefly rose above 25,000 for the first time since May 2008.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of Chinese stocks traded in the territory added 0.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.9 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index both rose 0.3 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 0.6 percent. Markets in South Korea and India were closed on Friday.

This week, data showed Japan’s economy contracted the most since 2011, China credit growth and industrial production missed estimates, and US retail sales stalled.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia will do everything it can to stop the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“History tells us not to take these things at face value regarding what Russia is up to and I think we can error on the side of cynicism,” Pengana Capital Ltd portfolio manager Tim Schroeders said in Melbourne, Australia.

“We’ve seen a myriad of weaker-than-expected economic data from Japan to Europe and even to the US That’s buoyed investor sentiment with regards to maintaining monetary stimulus longer,” Schroeders added.

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