Asian stocks rise as Nikkei breaks 15,000

Bloomberg

Sun, May 19, 2013 - Page 15

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index advancing for a second week, as Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average closed above 15,000 for the first time since 2007 after the yen touched a four-and-a-half-year low against the US dollar.

Toyota Motor Corp, the world’s biggest carmaker, advanced 6.9 percent, extending its gain for the year to 62 percent. Sony Corp jumped 15 percent as activist investor Daniel Loeb pushed for a partial spinoff of the electronics maker’s entertainment unit. Tokyo Electric Power Co soared 40 percent, the biggest gain on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, on optimism Japan’s nuclear plants will be restarted. Singapore Airlines slumped 4 percent after its fourth-quarter operating loss widened on lower passenger and cargo fares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.5 percent to 142.51 this week, its highest weekly close since June 6, 2008. The measure has risen more than 10 percent this year as the Bank of Japan started unprecedented monetary easing and US policymakers showed willingness to add stimulus. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index excluding Japan lost 1.1 percent this week.

“The rally, particularly in Japan, may continue as earnings recover,” said Daphne Roth, Singapore-based head of Asia equity research at ABN Amro Private Bank. “I don’t think there’s overheating in the market. Central banks are still pursuing quantitative easing, and that’s going to support further gains.”

While the MSCI Asia Pacific Index is trading at about 3.8 percent higher than its 50-day moving average, its 14-day relative strength index is at 62, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, below the 70 level some investors consider as a sign the market has risen too far, too fast.

The regional benchmark gauge trades at 14.3 times estimated earnings, compared with about 15.1 for the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index and 13.5 for the STOXX Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Japan’s TOPIX, the broadest measure of Japanese stocks, rose 3.5 percent this week to close at a four-and-a-half-year high, while the Nikkei 225 climbed 3.6 percent. Data showed first-quarter GDP and March machinery orders exceeded estimates.

The TAIEX rose 1.1 percent this week to 8,368.19. After three straight days of gains, the weighted index pulled back on Friday as the market encountered stiff technical resistance near 8,400 points, dealers said.

Concord Securities (康和證券) analyst Kerry Huang said he expects the market to continue to consolidate in the near term before taking off again, most likely led by the financial sector with its relatively low valuation.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.5 percent, while South Korea’s KOSPI increased 2.2 percent.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which was closed yesterday for a holiday, lost 1 percent this week. China’s industrial output and fixed- asset investment missed estimates this week, suggesting growth in the world’s No. 2 economy is slowing.

In other markets on Friday:

Wellington fell 0.82 percent, or 38.19 points, from Thursday to 4,597.84.

Manila shed 0.43 percent, or 31.07 points, to 7,279.87.

Mumbai closed up 0.19 percent, or 38.79 points, at 20,286.12 points.

Additional reporting by CNA and AFP