Stocks higher across Asia; Japan reports better than expected numbers

<p>Asian stocks opened the new trading week higher following US and European gains on Friday. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.4% at 1:29 p.m. […]</p>

Asian stocks opened the new trading week higher following US and European gains on Friday. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.4% at 1:29 p.m. in Tokyo, snapping a two-day loss, and futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.6%. The price-earnings ratio for the MSCI All-Country World Index fell to 11.8 on Aug. 10, the lowest since March 2009.Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) rose 2.3%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.9%. Markets in India and South Korea are closed for holidays.

In economic news, Japan’s economy contracted less than economists estimated in the second quarter as reconstruction work limits the slump from the record earthquake and tsunami. Gross domestic product shrank at an annualized 1.3% rate in the three months ended June 30, marking three consecutive quarters of declines. The market consensus was for a decline in the order of 2.5%. 

In M&A news, Bright Food Group Co., China’s second-largest food company, agreed to pay about A$400 million ($416 million) for a 75% stake in Australia’s Manassen Foods, according to two people familiar with the deal. Elsewhere, Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining posted a net profit for the 12 months to June 30 of $908 million, a 63 per cent jump on the previous corresponding period. Newcrest flagged it would step up capital spending and exploration spending in the year ahead.

In currencies, the Australian and New Zealand dollars advanced against most of their 16 major counterparts as Asian stocks extended a global equities rally, bolstering demand for higher-yielding assets. The Australian dollar climbed 0.5% to US$1.041 and the New Zealand dollar also added 0.7% to US$0.838.The People’s Bank of China set the daily fixing 0.03% higher at a record 6.3950 per dollar. The Yuan had its biggest gain since 2007 last week as official data showed consumer prices firmed the most in three years in July and China’s trade surplus surged.

In commodities, most base metals recovered some of last week’s losses. Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.7% to $8,928/t. Nickel climbed 1.4% and zinc advanced 1.8%. Crude oil for September delivery traded atUS$85.40 a barrel, up 2 cents, in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. 


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