Asia Stocks Set for Best Monthly Gain Since Sept. 2010

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Asian stocks are headed for the best monthly gain since September 2010 after U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly fell and Japan’s inflation accelerated to the fastest pace since 2008.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) gained 7.7 percent as the operator of the crisis-ridden Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station received approval for nuclear safety checks. Australand Property (ALZ) Group gained 2 percent in Sydney after JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised buying shares of the developer. Mirabela Nickel Ltd. (MBN) slumped 54 percent after the Australian producer of the metal said it may miss its output forecast.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2 percent to 140.83 as of 12:22 p.m. in Hong Kong, as all 10 industry groups advanced. The gauge climbed 8 percent this month through yesterday, touching a four-month high on Sept. 23, after the Federal Reserve unexpectedly maintained its stimulus program. It has jumped 7.7 percent this quarter.

“The U.S. jobs data was a positive surprise,” Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners Ltd. in Wellington, said by telephone. “I don’t think the Fed will do anything until December as they’ll want to see not just one good data point, but a series of steady improvements. It’s been a very solid quarter for markets.”

The September gains pushed valuations on the Asia-Pacific gauge to 13.7 times estimated earnings yesterday from 12.7 at the end of August, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 15.4 for the S&P 500 yesterday and 14.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, the data show.

Regional Gauges

Japan’s Topix index was little changed. Tokyo Electric gained 7.7 percent to 603 yen, the most on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average, after the governor of Niigata said yesterday he will allow the utility to apply to restart the world’s largest nuclear plant.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index (AS51) advanced 0.2 percent, heading for a five-year high. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.3 percent and South Korea’s Kospi index gained 0.2 percent. Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.1 percent after China’s industrial profits rose in August. Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.4 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index increased 0.1 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 0.7 percent.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. dropped by 5,000 to 305,000 last week, Labor Department data yesterday showed, compared with the 325,000 median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The government’s final estimate of U.S. growth showed that the economy expanded at a 2.5 percent annualized rate in the second quarter, unrevised from the previous report.

Best Performer

Japan’s Topix climbed 10 percent this month through yesterday, extending its surge this year to 42 percent, the biggest gain among 24 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg, amid optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan can lead the country out of deflation through monetary easing.

A panel advising the world’s largest pool of retirement savings said the Japanese government should review its holdings of domestic bonds that make up the bulk of its pension assets.

The interim report from the panel of economists comes as market participants say the 121 trillion yen ($1.23 trillion) Government Pension Investment Fund should increase its holdings of risk assets. Some members of the group recommended adding new assets such as real-estate trusts, infrastructure and private-equity investments and commodities, yesterday’s report said.

Japanese consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 0.8 percent in August from a year earlier, beating economist forecasts and setting the fastest pace since 2008, a report today showed.

Australand Property gained 2 percent to A$3.63. JPMorgan upgraded its recommendation to overweight from neutral.

China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co., a milk producer backed by billionaire Cheng Yu-tung, dropped 5.6 percent to HK$2.52 after its shares started trading on Hong Kong’s bourse.

Mirabela Nickel sank 54 percent to 2.8 Australian cents after saying it may fall short of its yearly production estimate due to challenging short-term outlook.

 

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