European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi
(BLOOMBERG) The euro advanced and Europe’s benchmark equity index climbed before a policy announcement from the region’s central bank after the Federal Reserve pledged more support for the U.S. economy if necessary. Asian stocks dropped.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.2 percent in London. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures added 0.1 percent. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) fell 0.3 percent, dropping for a second day. The euro traded for $1.2246, up 0.2 percent, while South Korea’s won weakened from a four-month high. Copper gained 0.4 percent and corn advanced for the first time in three days.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s pledge last week to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro raised expectations for today’s policy decision. The Fed signaled its readiness to support the economy even as it refrained from adding to bond purchases yesterday. Asia’s benchmark MSCI Asia Pacific gauge fell for a second day after recording its biggest four-day gain this year through July 31.
“Investors are being cautious, taking into account the possibility of their expectations being betrayed,” said Ayako Sera, a market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd., which has 33 trillion yen ($420 billion) in assets. “Asian markets are hoping but not completely believing that the ECB will do more.”
According to Bloomberg, the euro rose against most of its major counterparts after declining yesterday. South Korea’s won dropped 0.5 percent against the dollar, while the Malaysian ringgit retreated 0.5 percent from a two-month high versus the greenback after the Fed chose not to buy more bonds. Australia’s dollar climbed 0.2 percent after the country’s retail sales increased more than economists expected.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 5.1 percent in the four trading days through July 31, the biggest such increase since December. Most investors expect the ECB will buy government bonds to support Spain and Italy, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a note yesterday, citing a survey of 410 people.
Japan’s Topix Index climbed 0.4 percent as companies from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) to Astellas Pharma Inc. posted positive earnings. Tokyo Electric, operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, rose 10 percent after its quarterly loss narrowed from a year earlier. Goldman Sachs said the company will return to profit next year.
Astellas rose 1.1 percent after the Japanese pharmaceutical company said first quarter profit rose 41 percent. Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) advanced 1.3 percent after U.S. sales increased in July, rebounding after last year’s record earthquake caused parts shortages.
Copper rose as much as 0.7 percent to $7,476.50 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange amid speculation the ECB will do more to contain the debt crisis and as inventory fell. Stockpiles of the metal monitored by the LME declined for a seventh session in eight to 248,625 tons, the lowest level since June 14, exchange figures showed Wednesday.
Oil for September delivery was at $88.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract Wednesday rose 85 cents, or 1 percent, the biggest gain in almost two weeks after stockpiles declined the most in seven months in the U.S., the world’s biggest crude consumer. Prices are 10 percent lower this year.
Corn’s December-delivery contract climbed as much as 1 percent to $8.0825 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. A persistent drought in the U.S Midwest increased speculation that the Department of Agriculture will lower its estimate of the nation’s harvest.