Most Asian Stocks Advance as Greece Confident Bailout Agreement in Reach
Lenovo Group Ltd. rallied 3.8 percent in Hong Kong after the world’s second-biggest maker of personal computers posted better-than-estimated earnings. Japanese paper makers climbed in Tokyo. BHP Billiton Ltd. paced declining shares, falling 1.6 percent in Sydney. Chinese stocks reversed early losses after inflation unexpectedly accelerated in January as consumers splashed out during lunar new year celebrations.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) rose less than 0.1 percent to 126.71 at 8:39 p.m. in Tokyo after earlier slipping as much as 1 percent. Five stocks climbed for every four that fell. The gauge yesterday rallied 1.3 percent to a six-month high amid optimism a deal will be struck in Greece.
“History tells us that a deal in Greece will be reached at the last minute,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which has almost $100 billion under management. “A lot of indications show they are heading in that direction even though there are endless delays.”
A government official today said Greece was confident euro area finance ministers will approve a second bailout for the country. The official, who declined to be named, said there would not be another meeting of political parties later today.
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters in Athens there were still “issues outstanding that must be resolved” before European finance ministers meet in Brussels today. He spoke after a meeting with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the so-called troika of lenders that ended just before 6 a.m. local time.
Greece faces a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment on March 20 and is struggling to secure financing to avert a collapse of the economy that could spark a new round of contagion in the euro area.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) fell less than 0.1 percent after earlier dropping as much as 1.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index both closed 0.2 percent lower. South Korea’s Kospi Index added 0.5 percent, erasing losses of as much as 1.3 percent, as the nation’s central bank held borrowing costs steady for an eighth month.
The MSCI Asia Pacific earlier fell as much as 1 percent after a National Bureau of Statistics report showed consumer prices in China increased 4.5 percent in January from a year earlier, up from 4.1 percent in December. That also beat the median economist estimate of 4 percent.
‘Loaded With Cash’
The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong fell as much as 1.7 percent before paring losses to 0.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.1 percent after sliding 0.6 percent as the data were released.
“The prospect of China easing isn’t much but people are more bullish on the U.S. and the global recovery,” said Alex Wong, asset-management director at Ample Capital Ltd. in Hong Kong. “People are still loaded with cash, and U.S. economic performance was good so right now the uptrend is still strong.”
Lenovo climbed 3.8 percent to HK$6.49 after the company reported a 54 percent increase in third-quarter profit to $153 million as orders for office computers jumped and acquisitions in Germany and Japan boosted sales. That beat the $139.8 million average of nine analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 44 percent.
Japanese paper mills rose the most among the Topix Index’s 33 industry groups after Nippon Paper Group Inc. yesterday posted growing profit. Nippon Paper jumped 5.5 percent to 1,766 yen, Mitsubishi Paper Mills Ltd. surged 11 percent to 84 yen and Hokuetsu Kishu Paper Co. climbed 4.1 percent to 539 yen.
BHP Coke Strike
BHP, the world’s largest mining company lost 1.6 percent to A$37.16 in Sydney as workers at BHP’s coking coal mines in Australia said they will strike for seven days from Feb. 15 after rejecting the company’s latest offer.
About 3,500 workers at BHP’s mines in Queensland’s Bowen Basin have held rolling strikes since June over pay and conditions, before suspending industrial action in December to resume contract talks.
Elsewhere, Alibaba.com Ltd. (1688) suspended its shares from trading in Hong Kong as the company prepares a statement about a transaction involving its parent, which is raising about $3 billion to buy back stock held by Yahoo! Inc.
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