Bloomberg News

Japanese Stock Futures, Australia Shares Rise on U.S. Housing

December 20, 2011

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stock futures and Australian equities rose after U.S. housing starts increased more than economists forecast, adding to optimism the world’s largest economy will weather Europe’s debt crisis.

American depositary receipts of Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest carmaker by market value, rose 1.6 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Mitsubishi Corp., a Japanese trading company, also gained 1.6 percent after commodity prices advanced. BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s biggest oil producer, jumped 2.6 percent after crude prices increased.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 8,460 in Chicago yesterday, up from 8,330 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,460 in Osaka, at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.7 percent.

“The U.S. is showing it’s fairly robust in terms of not being dragged down to the extent of European economies, but there remain significant structural impediments,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne. “There will be significant gains today. A question is, given we are coming into a holiday period, how sustainable those gains are going to be over the next week or so.”

U.S. Housing

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The index advanced 3 percent in New York yesterday after a report showed builders broke ground in November on 685,000 houses, the most since April 2010. Concern about Europe’s debt crisis eased after Spain sold 5.64 billion euros ($7.38 billion) of bills, more than the maximum target, and German business confidence unexpectedly grew.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 19 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 1.3 percent loss by the S&P 500 and a 14 percent decline by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.5 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.6 times for the S&P 500 and 10.4 times for the Stoxx 600.

Chinese equities traded in New York rose the most in two weeks, led by solar energy stocks, after the Asian nation pledged funding support for small companies and as U.S. and German economic data that topped forecasts eased concern the global economy may be headed into a recession.

The Bloomberg China-U.S. 55 Index of the most-traded Chinese stocks rose 2.8 percent to 94.88 at 2:36 p.m. New York time, the biggest gain since Nov. 30.

The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of raw materials gained 2 percent yesterday. Crude for January delivery gained $3.34 to settle at $97.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

--Editors: John McCluskey, Jason Clenfield

To contact the reporter on this story: Yoshiaki Nohara in Tokyo at ynohara1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net


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