Asian stocks rose after U.S. consumer confidence climbed to a six-year high, buoying investor optimism about the outlook for the world’s biggest economy.
Samsung Electronics Co., a consumer electronics maker that gets a fifth of its revenue in America, rose 3 percent in Seoul. ChinaMengniu Dairy Co., the country’s largest dairy producer, soared 8.6 percent in Hong Kong after posting a 25 percent profit gain last year. Kirin Holdings Co. advanced 2.6 percent on a report the Japanese beverage maker will raise its annual dividend to at least 40 yen and consider a share buyback.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 1 percent to 135.57 as of 3:16 p.m. in Tokyo, with about two stocks rising for each that fell. All but one of the 10 industry groups on the measure advanced.
“Early signs are that U.S. growth is back on track with consumer confidence holding up and the market growing more confident that some of the data through the winter was weather-related,” Sean Fenton, who helps oversee about $1 billion as Sydney-based fund manager at Tribeca Investment Partners Ltd., said by phone. “We have seen a stabilization in China recently and there is a good chance we are through the worst.”
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 1 percent, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland shares traded in the city rose 1.6 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.4 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex index rose 0.6 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 1.4 percent.
Japan’s Topix (TPX) index increased 0.7 percent and South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 1.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.8 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.1 percent.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.1 percent today. The measure gained 0.4 percent yesterday, snapping a two-day loss. The Conference Board’s index of U.S. consumer confidence rose to 82.3 in March, the highest since January 2008, from 78.3 a month earlier, the New York-based private research group said yesterday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 76 economists called for a reading of 78.5 this month.
Another report showed purchases of new homes in the U.S. fell in February to the lowest level in five months, a sign the industry may take time to pick up after inclement weather damped demand earlier in the year. Residential real-estate prices climbed at a slower pace in the year through January than a month earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities.
U.S. President Barack Obama urged Russia to de-escalate the crisis over Ukraine or face the consequences of more sanctions if it encroaches further into the east of the country after its annexation of Crimea.
President Vladimir Putin “has to understand that there’s a choice to be made here,” Obama told reporters after a 53-nation nuclear-security summit in The Hague yesterday, saying there’s “another path open” to the Russian leader. “It is now up to Russia to act responsibly and show itself once again willing to abide by international rules and international norms.”
The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 12.6 times estimated earnings as of yesterday, compared with 15.9 for the S&P 500 and 14.4 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.