Asian stocks rose from the lowest level in more than three months as U.S. new-home sales spurred optimism about the world’s largest economy, weakening the yen and sending Japanese exporters higher.
Toyota Motor Corp., a carmaker that gets more than 75 percent of sales overseas, climbed 2 percent in Tokyo as the yen traded near the weakest since 2008. Shanghai Electric Group Co., which makes generator equipment used in nuclear power plants, jumped by the 10 percent daily limit in Shanghai after the China Securities Journal reported the government will allow four nuclear power projects to be built.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.1 percent to 143.16 as of 4:03 p.m. in Hong Kong. The gauge slid 4.3 percent from a six-year high in July to close yesterday at its lowest since June 5 amid concern Chinese economic growth is slowing.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index halted a three-day decline Wednesday after sales of new homes in the U.S. surged in August to the highest level in more than six years. The yen slid 0.3 percent to 109.33 per dollar today.
“The U.S. economy continues to remain very strong,” Mozamil Afzal, chief investment officer at EFG Asset Management, said in a Bloomberg TV interview from Bangkok. “We’re definitely bullish on the stock market” in Japan. “As growth continues to slowly but surely accelerate into next year and the following years, Japanese corporates will continue to do reasonably well. We continue to see the yen drifting up to 115 and maybe weaker.”
Japan’s Topix index gained 1.5 percent to the highest since June 2008, and China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index retreated 0.6 percent, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index fell 0.7 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index slid 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.1 percent, and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.4 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed, while Taiwan’s Taiex Index slumped 1 percent.
Data yesterday showed sales of new U.S. houses jumped 18 percent to a 504,000 annualized pace, the strongest since May 2008. The median forecast of 74 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for the pace to accelerate to 430,000. The one-month increase was the biggest since January 1992.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 0.1 percent after the underlying gauge rallied 0.8 percent yesterday. The measure had dropped 1.4 percent during the previous three days after closing Sept. 18 at a record.
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