Most Asian stocks advanced as investors weighed data showing Chinese exports rose more than analysts projected last month, while imports unexpectedly fell.
SoftBank Corp. climbed 2.1 percent as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., in which the Japanese phone carrier holds a stake, prepares for a record-breaking initial public offering. Henderson Land Development Co. gained 2.1 percent in Hong Kong after a filing showed the developer plans to sell its Citistore retail chain to a unit. Rakuten Inc. slumped 4.2 percent after the owner of Japan’s largest online mall said it’s in talks to buy U.S. website operator Ebates Shopping.com Inc.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped less than 0.1 percent to 148.4 as of 8:49 p.m. in Hong Kong after falling as much as 0.1 percent amid holidays across the region. About four shares advanced for every three that fell on the gauge, which climbed 0.4 percent last week on improving data. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed last week at an all-time high even after a report showed the slowest payrolls growth this year.
“U.S. data has been quite solid and if you get one aberrant number, I don’t think people will change their views,” Richard Jerram, chief economist at Bank of Singapore Ltd., said. “The main focus this week will be Japan and China. There’s a lot of data coming out from there.”
Chinese exports rose 9.4 percent in August from a year earlier, while imports slid 2.4 percent, leaving a record trade surplus of $49.8 billion, according to a government report. That compared with median economist estimates for increases of 9 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
“Investors are expecting China’s economy to improve in the second half, but they’re concerned the import numbers today show industrials may not be good enough to support that,” said William Fung, investment manager at Tanrich Securities Co. in Hong Kong.
Japan’s Topix index rose 0.4 percent. Gross domestic product contracted an annualized 7.1 percent in the three months through June, more than a preliminary reading of a 6.8 percent fall, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. The median forecast of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 7 percent drop.
“The bounce Japan was looking for after the sales-tax increase hasn’t really materialized,” Bank of Singapore’s Jerram said. “It seems the benefits from Bank of Japan policy, from the yen weakening, have largely faded away. It looks like the economy needs more support.”
The impact of the nation’s higher consumption tax extended into this quarter, with retail sales and household spending falling in July. The government signaled last week that it is prepared to boost stimulus to help weather a further increase in the levy scheduled for October 2015.
India’s S&P BSE Sensex index climbed 1.1 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.2 percent. The Jakarta Composite Index advanced 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Singapore’s Straits Times Index each lost 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.4 percent. Markets in China, South Korea and Taiwan are closed for a holiday.
SoftBank gained 2.1 percent to 7,628 yen in Tokyo. Alibaba, in which SoftBank holds a 34 percent stake, may raise as much as $21.1 billion in its U.S. IPO, according to a regulatory filing on Sept. 5. The Japanese carrier doesn’t plan to sell shares during the offering, the filing showed.
Kobe Steel Ltd. advanced 3.5 percent to 177 yen after its equity rating was raised to outperform from neutral at Credit Suisse Group AG, which lifted the share-price target to 210 yen from 145 yen.
Henderson Land rose 2.1 percent to HK$56 in Hong Kong. Henderson Investment Ltd. will buy the the Citistore retail chain from its parent for HK$934.5 million ($121 million).
Among shares that fell, Rakuten lost 4.2 percent to 1,270 yen. The company may pay about 100 billion yen ($950 million) for Ebates and is nearing a final agreement in a deal that is expected to be announced as soon as this week, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named as details of the talks are private.
“It’s so hard to see the cost-effectiveness” of the deal as the company has provided little details and it’s unclear what synergies the transaction could provide, which is driving the shares down, Mitsushige Akino, executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co., said by phone. “It’s hard to judge at this point if it’s a reasonable deal.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index traded at 13.8 times estimated earnings at the last close, compared with 16.8 for the S&P 500 and 15.6 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Futures on the S&P 500 lost 0.2 percent today. The U.S. equity benchmark gauge climbed 0.5 percent to a fresh record on Sept. 5 as geopolitical tensions eased and lower-than-estimated jobs data fueled bets the Federal Reserve won’t rush to raise interest rates.
U.S. employers added 142,000 jobs in August, the fewest this year, representing a pause in the recent labor-market momentum as companies assess the prospects for demand. Weak growth in Europe prompted the region’s central bank to step up stimulus measures last week.
The cease-fire intended to stem months of bloodshed in eastern Ukraine is being tested as both the government and the pro-Russian separatists its army has been fighting report violations and casualties.
Presidents Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin spoke Sept. 6 by phone on the progress of the truce, agreeing that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should monitor it, according to the Ukrainian leader’s website. The next talks on the conflict, which has cost more than 2,500 lives, may take place in a week.
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