Japanese stock futures and Australian equities were little changed after higher oil and commodity prices offset an unexpected decline in U.S. home sales.
American depositary receipts of Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Asia’s biggest carmaker by market value that gets 28 percent of its sales in North America, fell 0.3 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), Australia’s biggest oil producer, gained 0.1 percent. Shares of Softbank Corp. (9984) may be active after the Japanese mobile-phone company agreed to buy a baseball stadium for 87 billion yen ($1.05 billion) from Government of Singapore Investment Corp.
Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) expiring in June closed at 9,935 in Chicago on March 23, compared with 9,930 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 9,950 in Osaka, at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index (CRY) was little changed today, and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.5 percent in Wellington.
“Commodity prices including oil have risen, which is a catalyst for stronger commodity-related shares such as trading firms,” said Ryuta Otsuka, a strategist at Toyo Securities Co. in Tokyo.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPXL1) rose 0.2 percent today. Material and energy shares led the index’s 0.3 percent advance in New York on March 23, when the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index (CRY) of raw materials gained 0.7 percent. Oil for May delivery rose as much as 17 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $107.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract climbed $1.52 on March 23 to settle at $106.87 a barrel, the highest close since March 21.
U.S. Home Sales
While a jump in oil prices boosted the Bloomberg China-US Equity Index by 0.7 percent on March 23, the gauge of the most- traded Chinese stocks in New York slid 0.3 percent in the week. Vipshop Holdings Ltd., a Chinese online discount retailer, tumbled 15 percent on its first day of trading after its share sale.
Gains in U.S. stocks were limited after new home sales in the U.S. fell 1.6 percent to a 313,000 annual pace in February, the slowest since October, the Commerce Department reported. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 325,000.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) gained 11 percent this year through last week, compared with an 11.1 percent advance by the S&P 500 and an 8.6 percent increase by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 14.9 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.4 times for the S&P 500 and 11.1 times for the Stoxx 600.
Softbank agreed to buy the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome, the home of the Softbank Hawks baseball team, the company said in a statement.
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