Asian Stocks Rise as U.S. Housing Data Eases Fed Concerns

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Asian stocks rose for a second day after a slump in U.S. home sales eased speculation the Federal Reserve will reduce economic stimulus next month.

Belle International Holdings Ltd., a retailer of woman’s footwear, advanced 6.9 percent in Hong Kong after reporting first half-net income. Newcrest Mining Ltd. jumped 6.9 percent, leading a surge in Australian gold producers after the price of the precious metal rose above $1,400 an ounce last week. Tokyo Electric Power Co. slumped 7.7 percent in Tokyo after eight tons of filtered water leaked at its crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.3 percent to 131.77 as of 12:26 p.m. in Tokyo, with all of the 10 industry groups on the gauge rising.

“Any disappointing economic reading out of the U.S. will be interpreted as a sign that perhaps the economy is not ready for tapering in September and perhaps the Fed may hold off,” said Stan Shamu, a strategist at IG Ltd. in Melbourne. “It’s all about picking stocks with right fundamentals.”

Japan’s Topix index swing between gains and losses. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index increased 0.9 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.9 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the bigger of China’s stock exchanges, rose 1.3 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.4 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.6 percent.

U.S. Housing

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) gained 0.1 percent. The measure rose 0.4 percent on Aug. 23, when data showed new home purchases in the U.S. plunged in July by the most in three years. Investors are weighing when the Fed will start reining in $85 billion of monthly asset purchases.

The risk that the Fed’s trimming of bond buying will hurt economies from India to Turkey by sparking an exodus of cash and higher borrowing costs was a dominant theme at an annual meeting of central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that ended Aug. 24.

An index of emerging-market stocks last week fell 2.7 percent, the steepest in two months, compared with a 0.5 percent gain in the S&P 500. Such sell-offs aren’t an issue for Fed officials, who said their sole focus is the U.S. economy as they consider when to start tapering asset purchases.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 2.2 percent last week, paring its gain this year through Aug. 23 to 1.6 percent. That is lagging a 17 percent surge in the S&P 500 Index as growth slows in China and speculation that the Fed will curb stimulus spurred investors to sell assets across Asia and emerging markets.

The Asia Pacific index traded at 12.8 times estimated earnings on Aug. 23 compared with 15.1 for the S&P 500 Index and 13.9 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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