Asian stocks gained as manufacturing in the U.S. and China improved in April, adding to signs the world’s two biggest economies are recovering and boosting the outlook for the region’s exporters.
Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the world’s No. 1 mobile-phone maker by sales, climbed 1.4 percent in Seoul. Japan Tobacco Inc. gained 2.4 percent after Asia’s largest cigarette maker said it will raise its dividend payout. Idemitsu Kosan Co. jumped 4.6 percent after Japan’s third-biggest oil refiner posted earnings that beat expectations. Asustek (2357) Computer Inc. surged 7 percent in Taipei after the laptop maker reported net income that exceeded analysts’ estimates.
“I’m not that worried about growth in China,” said Masahiko Ejiri, a senior fund manager in Tokyo at Mizuho Asset Management Co., which oversees $39 billion. “We are quite positive about the Chinese economy and the prospects for the equity market. There will be more enthusiasm coming for the second half of the year.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.5 percent to 124.86 as of 5:10 p.m. in Tokyo, with more than two shares rising for each that fell. The gauge dropped 2.8 percent in March and April amid concern Europe will be trapped in a recession as debt-stricken nations such as Spain cut spending and as Chinese economic growth slows.
South Korea’s Kospi Index rose 0.9 percent, while Taiwan’s Taiex Index climbed 2.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) added 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 1 percent.
China, U.S. Manufacturing
China’s Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) climbed 1.8 percent as financial markets in the mainland resumed trading after a four- day weekend. Trading volumes in Hong Kong and China were at least 6.8 percent higher than the 30-day average, while those in Japan were 28 percent below, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
A Chinese manufacturing index compiled by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics rose in April, signaling a rebound in the world’s second-biggest economy. A government report yesterday showed China’s manufacturing expanded last month at the fastest pace in a year.
Exporters advanced as the Chinese data, combined with a U.S. report that showed production at U.S. factories unexpectedly expanded, bolstered optimism the world’s biggest economies will weather Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis.
Samsung Electronics rose 1.4 percent to 1.41 million won in Seoul. Li & Fung Ltd., a supplier of toys and clothes to Wal- Mart Stores Inc., advanced 2.2 percent to HK$16.96 in Hong Kong. Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd., a maker of shoes for Nike Inc., climbed 3.9 percent to HK$27.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The gauge advanced 0.6 percent in New York yesterday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 0.5 percent to close at the highest level since December 2007.
Japan Tobacco (2914) gained 2.4 percent to 446,500 yen in Tokyo. The company will raise its dividend payout ratio to 50 percent and increase prices to make up for low sales volume in Japan, the Nikkei newspaper reported, citing incoming President Mitsuomi Koizumi.
Idemitsu jumped 4.6 percent to 7,530 yen after posting full-year profit of 64.4 billion yen ($802 million), beating analysts’ estimates of 55.8 billion yen. Asustek surged 7 percent to NT$315.50 in Taipei after reporting first-quarter net income of NT$5 billion ($171 million), 28 percent higher than expectations.
OCI Co., South Korea’s biggest maker of polysilicon used in solar panels, surged 9.1 percent to 233,500 won, the best performer on the regional index, on speculation industry oversupply will ease after China’s LDK Solar Co. cut workers and delayed expansion plans.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) rose 9.2 percent this year through yesterday, compared with an 11.8 percent gain by the S&P 500 and a 5.7 percent advance by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Shares on the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.6 times estimated earnings on average, compared with a multiple of 13.4 times for the S&P 500 and 10.8 times for the Stoxx 600.
Among stocks that fell, Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. slumped 11 percent to HK$1.24, its lowest close since June 2009, after China’s second-biggest electronics retailer forecast a drop in first-quarter earnings.
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