Asian markets advance, led by Japanese surge

ATTRACTIVE EQUITY::Stocks soared on the yen’s steep depreciation against the US dollar as well as the high earnings forecasts released by corporations


Sun, May 12, 2013 - Page 15

Asian stocks advanced, with the regional benchmark ending the week near its highest level since June 2008 as the yen’s slide past ¥100 against the US dollar buoyed exporters in the busiest week of Japan’s earnings season.

Toyota Motor Corp jumped 10 percent after forecasting its highest profit in six years, as Sharp Corp surged 33 percent amid reports the unprofitable electronics maker will cut jobs and secure more investment from Samsung Electronics Co. HSBC Holdings PLC rose 3.3 percent in Hong Kong after the lender posted a bigger-than-estimated increase in first-quarter profit.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 1.3 percent to 141.86. The gauge retreated on Thursday and Friday from the highest level since June 2008. It has risen 9.7 percent this year as the Bank of Japan started unprecedented monetary easing and US policymakers showed willingness to add stimulus.

“The shift of money into equities is going to be an ongoing theme for a very long time,” said Peter Esho, a Sydney-based investment adviser at Wilson HTM Investment Group. “Central bank money printing is not changing any time soon. It makes equity markets look very attractive.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index traded at 14.2 times estimated earnings, compared with multiples of 14.7 for the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index and 13.2 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The TAIEX climbed 1.8 percent this week to 8,280.26 from 8,135.03 on May 3. HTC Corp (宏達電) fell 1.76 percent on Friday to NT$279.0, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) was 0.43 percent lower at NT$114.5.

Japan’s TOPIX increased 5 percent this week, erasing losses from the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and ending the week at its highest level since September 2008. The exporter-heavy Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 6.7 percent, the biggest weekly gain since December 2009.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.5 percent after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low.

South Korea’s KOSPI dropped 1.1 percent even after the Bank of Korea cut interest rates. Samsung and Hyundai Motor Co each fell at least 3.8 percent as the won climbed to its highest level against the yen in more than four years.

The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.9 percent as China’s exports unexpectedly accelerated, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 2.8 percent, gaining for a third week.

HSBC advanced 3.3 percent to HK$88.05 this week in Hong Kong, gaining for a third week. The London-based lender’s first-quarter pretax profit increased to US$8.43 billion from US$4.32 billion a year earlier, beating the US $8 billion average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The bank cited a reduction in bad loan provisions for the results.

Toyota, which gets about 75 percent of its revenue outside Japan, advanced 10 percent to ¥6,050 in Tokyo. Nikon Corp, which makes 85 percent of sales overseas, soared 18 percent to ¥2,500 after the camera maker forecast earnings that topped estimates.

Of the 325 companies on the Asia-Pacific gauge that have reported quarterly earnings since the beginning of last month and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 51 percent beat projections, Bloomberg data show.

In Sydney, News Corp leapt 6.6 percent to A$33 after it tripled its net income to US$2.85 billion in its third quarter. Profit excluding some items was A$0.36 a share, beating the A$0.35 average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Among stocks that fell, Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd (裕元工業), which supplies Nike Inc, tumbled 14 percent to HK$23.20, the biggest weekly drop since November 2008. The shoemaker said first-quarter results demonstrated a significant downturn and interim results may also be affected by rising costs and the relocation of a factory.

In other markets on Friday:

Manila rose 0.94 percent, or 67.95 points, from Thursday to 7,262.38.

Mumbai rose 0.72 percent, or 143.58 points, to 20,082.62.

Wellington rose 0.29 percent, or 13.44 points, to 4,652.78.