Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Most Asian stocks gained as Japanese and Australian shares rebounded after the regional benchmark index fell yesterday by the most in a week. The Shanghai Composite Index slid to the lowest in a month amid concern China’s rising home prices will spur additional property curbs.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the nation’s largest lender, rose 1.1 percent after the central bank governor said interest-rate cuts need time to work. Tosoh Corp. jumped 4.3 percent in Tokyo on a report the chemical maker developed materials that prevent lithium ion batteries from catching fire. Belle International Holdings Ltd. declined 5.4 percent in Hong Kong as analysts from Nomura Holdings Inc. and CCB International Securities Ltd. downgraded the shoe retailer.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 133.53 as of 6 p.m. in Tokyo after falling as much as 0.6 percent amid reports signaling Europe’s recession is worsening. About five shares advanced for every four that fell on the measure, which has risen 0.5 percent this week.
“It’s one of those days when investors sit on the sidelines and alternatively, if they missed out on a rally, this is an opportunity to buy stocks at better prices in a pullback in the market,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which has $126 billion under management. “I think it’s a correction. I don’t think it’s the start of a new slump in the market.”
Asian stocks plunged yesterday, with the MSCI Asia Pacific Index losing 1.3 percent and a gauge of Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong erasing this year’s gains, amid concern the Federal Reserve may scale back stimulus and as China called for more property curbs.
Asia’s benchmark traded at 14.7 times estimated earnings compared with 13.6 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.2 for the Stoxx Europe 600, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.8 percent today after falling the most in nine months yesterday. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 1.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index gained 0.2 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average increased 0.7 percent.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5 percent after yesterday dropping the most since November 2011. New home prices rose in most cities China’s government tracks for a third month, adding pressure on leaders to intensify policy-tightening to prevent asset bubbles. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 0.5 percent.
Futures on the S&P 500 gained 0.4 percent today. The gauge declined 0.6 percent in New York yesterday. The Federal Reserve’s Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said the U.S. unemployment rate may drop to 6.5 percent by the middle of next year and prompt the central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate.
Australian lenders advanced as Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens endorsed the current level of interest rates. Commonwealth Bank added 1.1 percent A$65.55. Westpac Banking Corp., Australia’s No. 2 lender by market value, advanced 1.3 percent to A$29.87.
Domestically oriented shares including food and services companies climbed in Japan. Secom Co., a security company, gained 3 percent to 4,740 yen in Tokyo. Beverage-maker Kirin Holdings Co. advanced 4 percent to 1,313 yen, its highest close since May 2010.
“Some domestic stocks are rebounding because they had fallen behind the broader market rally,” said Shintaro Takeuchi, portfolio investment group manager at Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., which manages 8.67 trillion yen ($92.9 billion) in assets. “Investors are taking profit on other stocks like exporters and banks after their big gains.”
Tosoh jumped 4.3 percent to 244 yen in Tokyo on a report that it has developed materials that prevent lithium ion batteries from catching fire, a problem that has grounded some of Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Chinese banks and developers dropped. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s top lender by market value, fell 1.1 percent to HK$5.49. Bank of China Ltd., the nation’s fourth-largest lender, declined 1.6 percent to HK$3.65. New World Development Co., a Hong Kong-based builder that gets about half of sales from China, slid 1.1 percent to HK$13.24. Sino-Ocean Land Holdings Ltd. fell 1.1 percent to HK$5.27.
Belle International dropped 5.4 percent to HK$14.46. Nomura and CCB International reduced the stock’s rating to neutral. The shares plunged a record 17 percent yesterday after the company said full-year 2012 profit will come in at the lower end of analyst estimates.
Sony Corp. fell 2.6 percent to 1,296 yen in Tokyo after Fitch Ratings said its forthcoming PlayStation 4 gaming console is unlikely to generate enough cash flow to turn around the company’s credit profile.
--With assistance from Jason Clenfield in Tokyo. Editor: Jim Powell