Asian Stocks Advance to Highest in Seven Months on ECB Stimulus

Jun 06, 2014 6:45 am ET

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose to a seven-month high, with the regional equities gauge posting a fourth weekly advance, after the European Central Bank announced a range of stimulus measures.

Sumco Corp., which makes silicon wafers, surged 11 percent to lead gains on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s largest lender by assets, climbed as financial shares posted the second-biggest advance among the 10 industry groups on the regional index. Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. gained 2.8 percent in Tokyo as Barclays Plc recommended buying the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s shares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.3 percent to 143.4 as of 6:39 p.m. in Hong Kong, its highest close since October. The gauge gained 1.2 percent this week in its longest weekly winning streak since March. The measure rallied 9.9 percent through yesterday from this year’s low in February after Chinese authorities eased bank collateral rules and U.S. data signaled a recovery in the world’s largest economy is intact.

The ECB’s moves are “further growth supportive and a lower interest-rate backdrop is positive for equities,” Chris Green, director of economics and strategy in Auckland at First NZ Capital Ltd., said by phone. “There’s still the impression that the labor market in the U.S. is a relatively positive story. We’re still constructive on equities.”

Japan’s Topix index added 0.2 percent, rising 2.8 percent this week, amid optimism the country’s largest pension fund will funnel more money into stocks. Sumco climbed 11 percent to 914 yen.

Regional Gauges

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index increased 0.4 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent, with Commonwealth Bank climbing 1 percent to A$81.77. India’s BSE S&P Sensex Index advanced 1.5 percent and Thailand’s SET Index added 0.3 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.7 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong slid 0.2 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.6 percent and Taiwan’s Taiex index slipped 0.1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 percent. South Korean markets are closed for a holiday.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent today after the gauge yesterday closed at a fresh record and investors awaited a monthly government report on U.S. jobs. Analysts project that 215,000 workers were added to nonfarm payrolls in May after the biggest increase since the start of 2012 the month before.

Negative Rates

The ECB became the first major central bank to use negative deposit rates, while also improving credit access for banks that lend to business and individuals, to spur consumption, ward off deflation and maintain growth.

The Asia-Pacific index traded at 13.2 times estimated earnings, compared with 16.4 times for the S&P 500 and 15.5 on the Europe Stoxx 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Kyowa Hakko Kirin gained 2.8 percent to 1,296 yen. Barclays upgraded the shares to overweight from equal weight.

Prada SpA sank 6.9 percent to HK$53.45 in Hong Kong, the largest decline since October 2011, after profit missed analysts’ estimates as a tourism slump damped its sales of luxury goods in Europe.

Infosys Ltd. dropped 1.3 percent to 2,999.8 rupees in Mumbai after the resignation of Prasad Thrikutam, the vice- president for marketing at the software-services provider.