Asian stocks advanced, with the regional benchmark index posting its biggest weekly gain in a month, after reports on US retail sales, housing starts and manufacturing beat estimates and China’s economy showed signs of stabilization.
Li & Fung Ltd (利豐), a supplier of toys and clothes to retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, climbed 8.5 percent in Hong Kong. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd (中國工商銀行), the world’s biggest lender by market value, rose 2.8 percent as China’s retail sales and exports accelerated last month. Softbank Corp jumped 7.3 percent in Tokyo after Japan’s third-largest mobile phone company agreed to buy 70 percent of Sprint Nextel Cor for US$20.1 billion.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 2.3 percent to 123.55 this week, the most since the period ended on Sept. 14. Through Friday, the gauge had climbed 13 percent from this year’s low on June 4, as stimulus measures in Europe, the US, Japan and China boosted market sentiment amid a global economic slowdown and Europe’s crisis.
“We see good signs of stabilization and we can probably say the US economy is not going backwards,” said Tim Leung, a portfolio manager who helps manage about US$1.5 billion at IG Investment Ltd in Hong Kong. “The market is enjoying a moment of relatively less hostile news from Europe.”
Taiwan’s TAIEX fell 0.4 percent this week to 7,408.76, down from 7,437.04 on Oct. 12.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rallied 5.5 percent, the biggest weekly advance since December, as the yen weakened against the US dollar, which could help boost earnings of Japanese exporters.
South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.6 percent as Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 1.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.1 percent.
The Asian benchmark traded at 13.1 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.7 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.2 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index.
Exporters advanced as reports showed industrial production and retail sales gained more than expected in the US last month, adding to signs of a recovery of the world’s biggest economy is taking hold.
China’s economic growth has started to stabilize, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) said in remarks published on Wednesday by Xinhua News agency. The government is confident of achieving annual targets and the economy will continue to show “positive changes,” Wen said, according to Xinhua.
Chinese lenders and developers advanced. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC, 中國工商銀行), China’s biggest bank, gained 2.8 percent to HK$5.10 in Hong Kong. Agricultural Bank of China Ltd (中國農業銀行) rose 2.2 percent to HK$3.29. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd, China’s biggest real-state firm traded in Hong Kong, climbed 4.6 percent to HK$20.25.
Emerging-market stocks fell, paring the biggest weekly rally in more than a month, as disappointing earnings at Microsoft Corp dragged down computer companies and foreign investment in China fell more than economists forecast.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index lost 0.7 percent to 1,006.07 at the close of trading in New York, its first retreat in four days. Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦), the world’s largest laptop maker, declined for a third day in Taipei and Samsung Electronics Co fell for the first time in five days in Seoul.
Brazil’s Bovespa dropped 1.4 percent, dragged down by commodity producers. South Korea’s KOSPI Index and Taiwan’s TAIEX both lost 0.76 percent, Russia’s MICEX Index lost 1 percent, and India’s SENSEX slipped 0.6 percent.
In other markets on Friday:
Manila closed flat, edging down 3.58 points from Thursday to 5,432.36.
Wellington slipped 0.34 percent, or 13.79 points, to 3,988.16.
Mumbai slipped 0.58 percent, or 109.62 points, to 18,682.31.
Additional reporting by Staff writer