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Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stock futures and Australian shares gained as falling jobless claims and increased U.S. home sales signaled the world’s largest economy is weathering Europe’s debt crisis.
American depositary receipts of Sony Corp., which earns a fifth of its sales in the U.S., gained 1.3 percent from the close in Tokyo. Sapporo Holdings Ltd. may advance after the Nikkei newspaper said operating profit at the beermaker may rise 17 percent this year. Billiton Ltd., Australia’s top oil producer, climbed 0.7 percent after crude prices increased.
Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average were bid in the pre-market at 8,430 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m., compared with 8,390 yesterday. Volume on the Nikkei 225 yesterday was more than 45 percent below the 100-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.3 percent in Wellington.
“Investors increasingly feel the U.S. economy is firmer than they had expected,” said Toshiyuki Kanayama, a market analyst at Tokyo-based Monex Inc. “The economic data is looking good and that will boost stock markets, especially when concern about Europe’s debt issues aren’t in the forefront.”
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 0.1 percent today. The gauge advanced 1.1 percent yesterday in New York as the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits dropped to 375,000 on average over the past four weeks, the fewest since June 2008. Stocks also advanced as pending sales of existing homes jumped in November to the highest level since April 2010.
Italy Misses Target
In Europe, Italy yesterday fell short of its target in a debt auction. Prime Minister Mario Monti said his government won’t “rule out” more aggressive efforts to reduce debt.
Crude oil for February delivery rose 0.3 percent to settle at $99.65 a barrel yesterday in New York amid speculation that tension in the Middle East may disrupt supplies. Iran threatened this week to block crude shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports.
The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index of the most-actively traded Chinese equities rose 0.8 percent to 95.49 yesterday.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 18 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a gain of 0.4 percent by the S&P 500 and a 12 percent drop by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.6 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.8 times for the S&P 500 and 10.5 times for the Stoxx 600.
--Editors: Jason Clenfield.
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