Bloomberg News

Asian Stocks Advance, Headed for Bull Market, on U.S. Consumer Confidence

February 29, 2012

Asian stocks rose, with the benchmark index set to enter a bull market, after U.S. consumer confidence beat expectations and factory output in Japan and South Korea gained, boosting optimism for global demand.

Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd. (551), which makes shoes for Nike Inc., gained 3.7 percent in Hong Kong. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (000660), a South Korean chipmaker, gained 1.2 percent, rising for a second day in Seoul after the bankruptcy filing of Japan’s Elpida Memory Inc. (6665), which tumbled 97 percent. Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. (HVN), Australia’s largest electrical goods retailer, lost 4.2 percent in Sydney after its first-half earnings fell.

“The bull-market signs are broadening amid resilience in the U.S. economy,” said Nader Naeimi, a Sydney-based senior strategist at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which manages nearly $100 billion. “Investor sentiment has gone from extreme pessimism to one of optimism. Europe didn’t turn out as bad as the market was fearing because of the actions taken by the European Central Bank.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) climbed 0.8 percent to 129.22 as of 6:14 p.m. in Tokyo, rising at least 20 percent from its low on Oct. 5 and meeting the definition of a bull market. The gauge is headed for a 5.1 percent gain for the month. The measure has advanced for the past 10 weeks, its longest winning streak since its inception in 1988, on signs of U.S. economic recovery and China’s monetary easing.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) was little changed. The nation’s industrial production rose 2 percent in January from the previous month, beating the 1.5 percent median estimate of 31 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Shares erased gains after the yen strengthened.

Korean Production

South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) Index rose 1.3 percent after the country’s factory output gained in January. Production increased 3.3 percent from December, beating estimates for a 0.5 percent drop. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.8 percent.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.8 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1 percent on concern the government will retain curbs to keep housing prices down this year.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 13 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 9.1 percent advance by the S&P 500 and an 8.1 percent increase by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 15 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.2 times for the S&P 500 and 11.1 times for the Stoxx 600.

U.S. Confidence

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPXL1) rose 0.2 percent today after the gauge advanced 0.3 percent in New York yesterday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2 percent to its first close above 13,000 since May 2008. The Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence increased in February to the highest level in a year, figures from the New York-based research group showed yesterday.

Euro-area confidence in the economic outlook improved more than economists forecast in February. An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the 17-nation euro area rose to 94.4 from 93.4 in January, the European Commission in Brussels said yesterday.

Greece’s parliament ratified a 3.2 billion-euro ($4.3 billion) package of spending cuts to the 2012 budget, bringing the nation a step closer to securing a debt bailout.

Yue Yuen rose 3.7 percent to HK$26.70 in Hong Kong, while Panasonic Corp. (6752), a Japanese electronics company, climbed 1.5 percent to 759 yen. The company named a new president three weeks after forecasting a record net loss.

Hynix Semiconductor increased 1.2 percent to 30,200 won in Seoul. Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea’s No. 1 consumer electronics exporter, gained 1.8 percent to 1.206 million won.

Record Slump

Elpida slumped a record 97 percent to 7 yen after this week filing for Japan’s biggest bankruptcy in two years. The stock extended losses after the Tokyo bourse removed limits on how far it could fall in a day.

Airlines rose as concern about higher fuel costs eased after crude prices declined. Air China Ltd. (753), the world’s biggest carrier by market value, gained 1.9 percent to HK$5.86 in Hong Kong. China Eastern Airlines Corp. advanced 1.7 percent to HK$2.99.

Crude for April delivery fell 1.9 percent to $106.55 a barrel in New York yesterday, declining for a second day after reaching a nine-month high.

Harvey Norman slid 4.2 percent to A$2.07 in Sydney after saying profit for the six months ended Dec. 31 fell 2.1 percent to A$128.95 million ($139 million).

To contact the reporters on this story: Kana Nishizawa in Hong Kong at knishizawa5@bloomberg.net; Jonathan Burgos in Singapore at jburgos4@bloomberg.net

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


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