Bloomberg News

Japan Stock Futures Little Changed on U.S. Homes, Euro Concern

January 23, 2012

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stock futures were little changed as U.S. home sales increased, while negotiations to resolve Greece’s debt crisis continue, fanning concern Europe’s economy will slow. Australian equities fell.

American depositary receipts of Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s top carmaker, rose 1.7 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo after the Nikkei newspaper reported the automaker may raise its domestic sales forecast this year. Those of Canon Inc., a camera maker that depends on Europe for almost a third of its sales, slid 0.2 percent after the euro declined, cutting the exporter’s earnings outlook. BHP Billiton Ltd., Australia’s No. 1 oil producer and the world’s biggest mining company by market value, fell 0.8 percent in Sydney after prices for crude and metals declined.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 8,775 in Chicago on Jan. 20, compared with 8,750 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,760 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent in Wellington.

“Taking time to settle Greece’s debt swap talks is weakening the euro, which will likely push down stock prices,” said Toshiyuki Kanayama, a market analyst at Tokyo-based Monex Inc. “Improving U.S. economic data is easing investors’ risk aversion which will likely limit the pressure to sell stocks.”

U.S. Futures

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The index added 0.1 percent in New York on Jan. 20, erasing a loss in the final minutes of trading, as banks gained and results from International Business Machines Corp. and Intel Corp. boosted technology shares.

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose for a third month in December to the highest level since January 2011, a sign the housing market ended last year with momentum.

In Europe, Greek officials and private creditors continued negotiations on a debt swap deal that’s crucial to lowering the country’s debt and freeing up a second round of international aid.

The euro weakened to as low as 98.92 yen today in Tokyo, compared with 100.01 yen at the close of stock trading on Jan. 20. The dollar also depreciated to 76.92 yen today from 77.15 yen, cutting the value of some overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated.

Crude oil for February delivery dropped 1.9 percent to $98.46 a barrel in New York on Jan. 20, the lowest settlement since Dec. 20. The contract expired on Jan. 20. The more active March contract declined $2.21 to $98.33.

Metal Prices

The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six metals including copper and aluminum slid 1.1 percent, its first drop in five days.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 6 percent this year through Jan. 20, compared with gains of 4.6 percent by the S&P 500 and 4.6 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 1.3 times book value. That compares with 2.1 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in the U.S. and 1.4 times for the Europe Stoxx 600 Index in Europe.

The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index of the most-traded Chinese stocks in the U.S. added 0.1 percent to 101.26 on Jan. 20 in New York.

--Editors: John McCluskey, Jason Clenfield

To contact the reporters on this story: Norie Kuboyama in Tokyo at nkuboyama@bloomberg.net; Satoshi Kawano in Tokyo at skawano1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John McCluskey at j.mccluskey@bloomberg.net


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