Sydney: Asian stocks advanced, lifting the MSCI Asia Pacific Index to a two-week high, as Chinese companies increased earnings and a US consumer confidence report beat economist estimates.
Air China Ltd, the country’s biggest international carrier, surged 10% in Shanghai after first-half net income doubled. China Life Insurance Co. Ltd, the nation’s biggest insurer, gained 3.2% as profit in the period climbed 15%. Westfield Group, which operates 55 US shopping malls, rose 4.7% in Sydney as a gauge of US home prices advanced.
“People are generally happy that things are improving,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage about $1 billion (Rs4,880 crore) at Pengana Capital Ltd in Melbourne. “It’s now a question of how strong that is going to be. We’re probably still going to get the occasional rogue figure from time to time.”
Modest gains: A man watches an electronic stock indicator in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday. Shizuo Kambayashi / AP
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.6% to 113.73 as of 7.22 pm in Tokyo, the highest level since 14 August. The gauge has climbed 61% from an at least five-year low on 9 March on speculation government stimulus packages and lower borrowing costs will revive the global economy.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 1.4% as a government report showed the country’s exports fell 36.5% in July from a year earlier, less than some economists predicted. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.8%. Taiwan’s Taiex Index sank 1.3%, the region’s biggest drop.
One-third of the 548 companies in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index that have reported net income since early July have exceeded analyst estimates, while 19% have missed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Yinchuan Xinhua Department Store Co. Ltd rose 9.1% in Shanghai after first-half profit climbed. Noritz Corp., which makes water heaters, soared 10% after Credit Suisse Group AG said the party favoured to win Japanese elections on 30 August will push a policy requiring people to replace old boilers. Consolidated Media Holdings Ltd surged 12% in Sydney after agreeing to sell a stake in an employment website.
Futures on the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. The gauge advanced 0.2% on Tuesday as the conference board’s consumer-confidence index climbed in August for the first time in three months. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index declined 15.4% in June from a year earlier, less than estimated by economists. The housing and confidence reports cemented evidence that the US economy is recovering, said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at Tokyo-based Nikko Cordial Securities Inc.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, Hong Kong’s biggest carrier, added 2% to HK$11.42.
China Life gained 3.2% to HK$34.30 in Hong Kong. Net income increased to 18.2 billion yuan from 15.8 billion yuan a year earlier on investment returns, the company said late yesterday.
Asian stocks have rallied this week after the National Association of Realtors said existing home purchases in the US jumped in July by the most since the tallies began in 1999. US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said on 21 August that the global economy was beginning to emerge from recession after aggressive action from central banks and governments.
Toyota Motor Corp., which gets 31% of its sales in North America, climbed 1.5% to 4,110 yen in Tokyo. Honda Motor Co. Ltd, which gets 45% of its revenue in North America, added 0.7% to 3,010 yen.
Companies on the Asian gauge are currently priced at an average 24 times estimated earnings, up from 13.7 times at the end of 2008, as improving economic data and better-than-expected corporate earnings globally point to a global economic recovery.