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Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose as Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s affirmed the U.S.’s credit ratings even after a deficit-cutting committee failed to reach an agreement. Japan’s exporters gained as the yen weakened against the dollar.
Li & Fung Ltd., the supplier to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., climbed 3.4 percent in Hong Kong. Sony Corp., Japan’s No. 1 exporter of consumer electronics, rose 3.1 percent after closing yesterday at the lowest level since 1987. Osaka Securities Exchange Co. rose 4.6 percent after Tokyo Stock Exchange Group Inc. agreed to acquire the bourse.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2 percent to 112.60 as of 7:21 p.m. in Tokyo after swinging between gains and losses at least nine times. The index fell for the previous five days, the longest streak since August.
About the same number of stocks fell as rose on the index as the president of the European Union called for Greek leaders to forgo politics in favor of solving the country’s debt crisis.
“Politicians have been behind the curve all along, and I think the market is feeling uneasy about that,” said Prasad Patkar, who helps manage about $1 billion at Platypus Asset Management Ltd. in Sydney. “In the current market, a stock rally will be quite hard as well.”
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.6 percent today. The index dropped 1.9 percent in New York yesterday. The U.S. deficit-cutting congressional committee said that it failed to reach an agreement, setting the stage for automatic spending cuts in 2013 and fueling concern that economic-stimulus measures that are set to expire will not be renewed.
Losses in stocks were limited as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service said they won’t lower credit ratings on the U.S. due to the committee’s failure. S&P, which stripped the U.S. of its top AAA grade in August, said the political gridlock didn’t merit another downgrade because the inaction will trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts.
“The U.S. deficit and its ratio to economic output won’t worsen much because $1.2 trillion will be cut automatically with or without an agreement,” said Masaru Hamasaki, who helps oversee the equivalent of $24 billion as chief strategist at Toyota Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “In terms of market sentiment, it’s a different story. It’s not good they couldn’t make a decision.”
HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest bank, fell 0.8 percent in Hong Kong, leading declines among companies which receive revenue from the region. Esprit Holdings Ltd., a clothier, dropped 3.2 percent to HK$8.38.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.4 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slid 0.7 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi Index added 0.3 percent.
Some Japanese exporters rebounded from multi-year lows as the yen weakened against the dollar and euro, easing concern about their earnings outlook. Sony rose 3.1 percent to 1,305 yen after closing yesterday at the lowest level since 1987. Toyota edged up 0.1 percent to 2,387 yen after touching its lowest intraday level since 1996 today.
Tokyo Stock Exchange Group will acquire Osaka Securities Exchange in a transaction that values the smaller bourse operator at $1.68 billion.
The companies agreed to a purchase price of 480,000 yen for each Osaka Securities Exchange share, which will be acquired in a tender offer, according to a statement from the Osaka Securities Exchange distributed through the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Osaka Securities rose 4.6 percent to 440,500 yen.
Onesteel Plant Closure?
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 18 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 5.1 percent loss by the S&P 500 and a 19 percent drop by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.2 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12 times for the S&P 500 and 9.8 times for the Stoxx 600.
OneSteel Ltd. slumped 11 percent to 83 Australian cents after Chief Executive Officer Geoff Plummer said yesterday he won’t rule out shutting the steelmaker’s main Whyalla steel plant in South Australia should the company fail to improve performance using other measures.
Fosun International Ltd., the biggest stakeholder in Focus Media Holding Ltd. according to Bloomberg data, dropped 6.5 percent to HK$4.16 in Hong Kong after Muddy Waters LLC recommended investors sell Focus Media shares.
Olympus Corp. surged 20 percent to 869 yen. An independent committee investigating inflated payments to advisers for acquisitions by the scandal-hit company said it has found no links to organized crime so far in its probe, according to a statement by the endoscope maker.
--With assistance from Kana Nishizawa in Hong Kong. Editor: Nick Gentle
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