Singapore/Tokyo: Sumitomo Mitsui, Japan’s No. 3 bank by assets, jumped by the most in seven weeks after it predicted a 22% gain in net income this year. BHP Billiton Ltd advanced after copper prices in New York surged the most in a month and oil rose to a three-week high.
“People are saying Sumitomo Mitsui’s earnings forecast is still conservative and speculation over bigger profit growth in the industry pushed bank shares higher,’’ said Katsunori Hirai, who helps oversee $20 billion (Rs81,199 crore) in assets at Tokio Marine Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index added 0.6% to 149.08 at 9:21 am in Tokyo, set for the highest close since 14 May. Technology stocks led gains among the index’s 10 industry groups after NEC Corp., Japan’s largest personal computer maker, forecast profit will triple.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.4% to 17,617.46. Indexes gained elsewhere in markets open for trading, with benchmarks in South Korea and Singapore rising to records.
U.S. stocks advanced yesterday, driving the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index up 0.2% to 1,525.10.
Sumitomo Mitsui jumped 4.7% to 1.11 million yen, set for its biggest advance since 3 April. Sumitomo Mitsui forecast profit will rise 22% to 540 billion yen ($4.45 billion) in the financial year ending March 2008.
Focus on Banks
“Sumitomo Mitsui Financial’s projection for the annual earnings increases investors’ focus on bank shares,’’ said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc. in Tokyo.
Mizuho Financial Group Inc., the country’s second-largest bank by assets, climbed 3% to 792,000 yen. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., the biggest, rose 1.5% to 1.34 million yen. Mizuho is scheduled to report earnings today after the market closes, followed by Mitsubishi UFJ tomorrow.
BHP added 0.6% to A$31.36. Rio Tinto Group, the second-biggest mining company by market value and third by production, gained 0.9% to A$93.15. Nippon Mining Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest copper producer, advanced 0.6% to 1,029 yen.
Copper futures for July delivery gained 7.7 cents, or 2.3%, to $3.4005 a pound yesterday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. A measure of six metals traded on the London Metal Exchange, including copper and zinc, added 1.3%.
Crude oil yesterday rose 2.1% to settle at $66.27 a barrel in New York, the highest close for a front-month contract since 27 April. It was recently at $66.32 in after-hours trading.
Inpex Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest oil explorer, climbed 1.9% to 1.1 million yen. Woodside Petroleum Ltd, Australia’s biggest oil producer after BHP, rose 1.2% to A$43.82.
Elsewhere, NEC jumped 6.3% to 626 yen. The company said profit in the current financial year is expected to rise to 30 billion yen, from 9.1 billion yen, as mobile-phone earnings improve and its semiconductor unit cuts spending.
Sony Corp., the world’s second-largest maker of consumer electronics, rose 2.9% to 7,140 yen. Samsung Electronics Co., Asia’s largest maker of chips, flat screens and mobile phones, gained 1.8% to 562,000 won.