Asia Stocks Swing From Loss to Gain; Energy Shares Fall

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Asian stocks swung between gains and losses, with energy producers leading declines as the price of oil fell after the U.K parliament voted against military strikes on Syria. Japanese utilities rose.

Inpex Corp., Japan’s No. 1 energy explorer, dropped 2.2 percent. Hokkaido Electric Power Co. added 4 percent in Tokyo as the utility forecast a smaller-than-expected net loss. Ping An Insurance (Group) Co., China’s second-largest insurer, gained 0.8 percent in Hong Kong after saying first-half profit rose. Shanghai Industrial Holdings Ltd., a shopping-mall operator, lost 1.8 percent in Hong Kong after reporting first-half profit fell 34 percent.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose less than 0.1 percent to 129.85 as of 1:13 p.m. in Tokyo, having swung between gains of as much as 0.5 percent and losses of 0.1 percent. The gauge is down 1.2 percent this week, a second week of losses, while it has dropped 1.8 percent this month.

“The fact that attack on Syria is less likely is obviously a positive thing as far as sentiment goes,” Andrew Sullivan, director of sales trading at Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong, said by telephone. “But we’ve also seen an impact on oil prices and gold. That’s part of the choppiness.”

Regional Gauges

Japan’s Topix index dropped 0.6 percent after data showed consumer prices rose at the fastest pace since 2008, the jobless rate fell and industrial production increased less than economists estimated. The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index gained 0.5 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi Index added 0.6 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.1 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.1 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3 percent.

Taiwan’s Taiex Index increased 0.7 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.1 percent. India’s S&P BSE Sensex (SENSEX) advanced 0.2 percent.

Crude oil fell after U.K. lawmakers rejected a motion put forward by Prime Minister David Cameron seeking endorsement in principle for military strikes against Syria, easing concern that oil supplies will be disrupted in the Middle East. Gold also dropped.

In the U.S., President Barack Obama’s administration is also struggling to marshal conclusive evidence backing its assertion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was directly responsible for the alleged chemical attacks near Damascus last week, according to three U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the situation. Syrian opposition groups say 1,300 people died in the assault.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) gained 0.3 percent today. The measure advanced 0.2 percent yesterday as a report showed the U.S. economy grew 2.5 percent in the second quarter, up from an initial estimate of 1.7 percent and more than the 2.2 percent projected by economists.

Tough Outlook

“We have a nice revision to the U.S. GDP, but the outlook remains very tough,” said Sullivan at Kim Eng Securities. “There are so many macro overhangs at the moment and a lot of trading investors are waiting on the sidelines.”

The Asia-Pacific gauge rose 0.3 percent this year through yesterday, lagging a 15 percent surge in the S&P 500 Index, as growth slows in China and speculation that the Federal Reserve will taper economic stimulus spurred investors to sell assets across Asia and emerging markets.

The MSCI Asia Pacific index traded at 12.7 times estimated earnings yesterday, compared with 14.9 for the S&P 500 Index and 13.7 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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