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Asian stocks rose for the first time this week after U.S. jobless claims fell more than estimated and China and Japan agreed to hold talks over a territorial dispute that has disrupted trade.
Honda Motor Co., a Japanese whose sales in China slumped last months after rioters torched dealerships in protests over disputed islands, added 2.3 percent. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., Japan’s No. 1 shipping company, gained 1.1 percent as commodity freight rates rose in London. Softbank Corp. sank 16 percent as Japan’s third-largest mobile-phone company said it’s in talks to invest in Sprint Nextel Corp. Billabong International Ltd. slumped 16 percent after TPG International LLC withdrew its bid for the Australian surfwear maker.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.7 percent to 121.13 in Tokyo, with more than twice as many stocks rising as falling. The measure is poised for its biggest weekly drop since August after the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts and Japanese car sales fell in China. The two countries have agreed to hold talks to reduce tensions, according to Bloomberg report.
“It will take a while to fully recover the pre-dispute situation, but at least we’re seeing some gradual improvement in the China-Japan relations,” said Yoji Takeda, who oversees about $1.2 billion as head of Asian equities at RBC Investment Management (Asia) Ltd. “As investors see more positive earnings reports, people may start to turn confident. We’re seeing moderate growth in the U.S. and the stock market there has held up quite well.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 5.7 percent this year through Thursday as central banks from Europe to the U.S. and Japan added stimulus measures to counter a global economic slowdown and the European debt crisis. The Asian benchmark traded at 12.7 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.7 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12 times for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.8 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.5 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi Index added 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.2 percent.
Singapore’s Straits Times Index swung between gains and losses. The country’s central bank unexpectedly refrained from easing monetary policy even as the economy contracted last quarter, saying inflation will remain elevated for some time.