(July 4): Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index heading for its biggest weekly rally in three months, after U.S. unemployment slid to the lowest level since before the peak of the financial crisis.
Mazda Motor Corp., an automaker that gets 31 percent of its sales in North America, gained 1.2 percent in Tokyo. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. added 7.3 percent in Hong Kong after securing orders from Qualcomm Inc. to make chips for the world’s largest supplier of smartphone processors. Seven & I Holdings Co., a Japanese convenience-store operator, added 2 percent after its first-quarter operating profit grew.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.4 percent to 147.61 as of 4:14 p.m. in Hong Kong, heading for a 1.7 percent gain this week, the largest such advance since the period ended April 4. The measure is in its eighth straight weekly rally, the longest winning streak since 2012.
“The jobs report was a positive surprise and it confirmed the ongoing recovery in the U.S. labor market,” said Masaaki Yamaguchi, equity market strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest brokerage by market value. “That’s adding a tailwind to the market.”
Japan’s Topix index rose 0.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.1 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.4 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.6 percent.
Taiwan’s Taiex index slipped 0.2 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.1 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland stocks traded in the city advanced 0.3 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent. India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index slid 0.1 percent.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.1 percent today. U.S. equity markets are shut today for the Independence Day holiday. The measure advanced 0.6 percent in shortened trading yesterday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5 percent, both extending record highs.
The addition of 288,000 jobs in June followed a revised 224,000 gain in May, Labor Department figures showed yesterday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 215,000 advance. The number of long-term unemployed fell to 3.1 million, showing Americans are having greater success finding work. The unemployment rate fell to an almost six-year low of 6.1 percent.
The data prompted economists at banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. to bring forward estimates for when the Federal Reserve will raise its benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2006.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said June 18 that the Fed planned to hold benchmark rates near zero for a “considerable time” as slack in the jobs market kept inflation below the central bank’s 2 percent target.
Companies that do business in the U.S. rose. Mazda Motor gained 1.2 percent to 493 yen in Tokyo. Techtronic Industries Co., a maker of power tools that gets 73 percent of its sales in North America, added 1.9 percent to HK$ 24.80 in Hong Kong.
Semiconductor Manufacturing International jumped 7.3 percent to 74 Hong Kong cents. The company will work with Qualcomm, a San Diego, California-based chip designer, to make its Snapdragon processors, the companies said yesterday.
Seven & I Holdings added 2 percent to 4,447 yen after first-quarter operating profit rose 5.1 percent to 77.5 billion yen ($ 760 million) from a year earlier.
HTC Corp. jumped 1.1 percent to NT$ 138.50 in Taipei after returning to profit as the release of its marquee One M8 smartphone and a cut in marketing costs helped stem the effects of a continued decline in sales.
Sands China Ltd. advanced 2.4 percent to HK$ 61.15 in Hong Kong after HSBC Holdings Plc raised its target price on the Macau casino operator to HK$ 70.70.
The Asia-Pacific gauge traded at 13.4 times estimated earnings at the last close compared with 16.7 for the S&P 500 and 15.7 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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