Shares of Asian banks and information technology companies advanced this week as Macquarie Group Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co. posted higher profits. Japanese exporters fell as the yen touched a two-week high.
Macquarie, Australia’s largest investment bank, jumped 14 percent. Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest maker of mobile-phones gained 3.3 percent. Esprit Holdings Ltd. (330), a Hong Kong-based clothier that gets about 79 percent of sales from Europe, climbed 8.8 percent in Hong Kong after the European Central Bank cut its interest rate to a record low. Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s No. 1 carmaker, slipped 3.9 percent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed for the week at 140.02, with about six shares rising for every five that fell. The measure has rallied for the past six months, the longest winning streak since September 2009, on optimism Japan will deploy more measures to beat deflation. The Federal Reserve said this week it will maintain its bond buying at $85 billion a month, while the ECB lowered its main refinancing rate to 0.5 percent from 0.75 percent.
“Unlike at this point in the last three years, you have central banks in Europe, the U.S. and Japan all easing,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which has $126 billion under management. “The market is a lot less worried about Europe. Profits are continuing to rise and we remain overweight stocks on a positive 12-month view. Valuations are still OK.”
The Asian benchmark traded at 14 times estimated earnings yesterday, compared with 14.7 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 13.1 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.6 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi Index (KOSPI) climbed 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.3 percent in a two-day trading week.
Philippine Stock Exchange Index jumped 2.7 percent to a record high after the nation won its second investment-grade debt rating on May 2.
The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index slipped 1 percent, declining for the first time in six weeks, ahead of the national elections May 5. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 13-party Barisan Nasional coalition faces a resurgent opposition alliance led by the former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim. Najib said last month a win by a fractious opposition could bring “catastrophic ruin.”
Japan’s Topix Index, the broadest measure of the country’s equity performance, dropped 0.7 percent this week as the yen strengthened to a two-week high on April 30. A stronger yen cuts the value of overseas income at Japanese exporters when repatriated. The gauge on April 30 capped its biggest monthly advance since 1999 and an eighth month of gains, its longest winning streak since January 2006.
“In the short-term, some markets like Japan and the U.S. have been overbought and could consolidate from day to day,” said Khiem Do, Hong Kong-based head of Asian multi-asset strategy at Baring Asset Management Ltd., which manages about $51 billion. “But we are not talking about a 10-15 percent correction.”
Macquarie jumped 14 percent to A$43.11, the highest since June 2010, in Sydney after reporting full-year profit rose 17 percent from a year earlier to A$851 million ($873 million). That surpassed the A$821 million average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) climbed 5.8 percent to A$31.60 this week after posting higher first-half profits. Westpac Banking Corp., the nation’s second-biggest lender, gained 3 percent to A$33.55 after saying it will pay a special dividend as cash earnings improved. National Australia Bank Ltd., which is due to report its results on May 9, added 3.4 percent to A$33.74.
Samsung Electronics gained 3.3 percent to 1.535 million won in Seoul. The company reported on April 26 net income increased 42 percent from a year earlier to a record 7.15 trillion won ($6.5 billion).
Of the 281 companies on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index that reported quarterly results since April 1 and for which estimates are available, about 53 percent surpassed analyst estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
LG Uplus Corp., South Korea’s smallest mobile-phone carrier, jumped 25 percent to 11,800 won, the biggest advance on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. The company posted first-quarter profit that beat analyst estimates.
Companies that do business in Europe advanced. Esprit rose 8.8 percent to HK$10.92 this week in Hong Kong. HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest lender, gained 2.2 percent to HK$85.25. Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (13), the operator of ports, utilities and retail-store chain that gets 53 percent of revenue from Europe, added 2.5 percent to HK$85.10.
Japanese exporters declined. Toyota dropped 3.9 percent to 5,490 yen. Honda Motor Co. (7267), which gets about 83 percent of revenue outside Japan, fell 4.7 percent to 3,820 yen. Canon Inc., the world’s biggest camera maker, slid 3.2 percent to 3,445 yen.
Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. (011200), South Korea’s second-biggest shipping line, slumped 14 percent to 9,250 won in Seoul after announcing plans to sell $117.6 million of bonds convertible into common stock.
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