Japanese and Australian stock futures were little changed after the Federal Reserve said it may provide more stimulus for the U.S. economy, offsetting concern that Greece’s debt crisis is worsening.
American depositary receipts of Sony Corp. (6758), Japan’s largest consumer electronics exporter that gets a fifth of its sales in Europe, fell 1.1 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Melco Holdings Inc. may be active after the Japanese manufacturer of computer peripherals said it expects a 22 percent increase in annual profit. ADRs of Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-largest oil and gas producer, dropped 0.4 percent as crude prices declined.
Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in June closed at 8,755 in Chicago yesterday, up from 8,750 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,760 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index were little changed today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.3 percent in Wellington.
The uncertainty in Greece “seems likely to confine equity markets to several weeks of nervous limbo,” said Michael Kurtz, head of global equity strategy at Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest brokerage. “We will look back on this juncture as an extraordinary buying opportunity even if events ultimately conspire to eject Greece from the euro.”
Concern about Europe’s crisis drove the MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) down for the past six days, dragging the gauge to its lowest level this year. The European Central Bank said it will temporarily stop lending to some Greek banks to limit its risk as President Mario Draghi signaled the ECB won’t compromise on key principles to keep Greece in the euro area.
In the U.S., economic data bolstered optimism that the world’s largest economy can withstand fallout from Europe. Several Federal Reserve policy makers said a loss of momentum in growth or increased risks to their economic outlook could warrant additional action to keep the recovery going, minutes of their last meeting showed.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) rose 0.1 percent today. The index slipped 0.4 percent in New York yesterday, capping four days of losses, the longest decline in a month.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 11 percent from this year’s high in February, limiting this year’s gain to 0.4 percent through yesterday, compared with a 5.3 percent gain by the S&P 500. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index is little changed in 2012. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 11.7 times estimated earnings on average, compared with a multiple of 12.6 for the S&P 500 and 10.1 times for the Stoxx 600.
The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index (CH55BN) of the most-traded Chinese companies in the U.S. fell 1 percent to 94.33 yesterday, posting a 10 percent drop over 10 straight days of declines.
Crude oil for June delivery fell $1.17, or 1.2 percent, to $92.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest since Nov. 2.
The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six industrial metals including copper and aluminum dropped 0.9 percent yesterday. The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of raw materials gained 0.1 percent.
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