Asian stocks rose, with the regional index headed for its longest stretch of weekly gains since September, as bond risk in the region fell to the lowest in 11 weeks before U.S. employment data today. Indonesia’s rupiah jumped and nickel headed for its longest win streak since 2010.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.6 percent by 10:57 a.m. in Tokyo, extending a global rally that’s added $523 billion to equities this week through yesterday. Japan’s Topix Index climbed 0.8 percent as the yen held near a five-week low. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) futures rose 0.1 percent. The rupiah surged 1 percent to the highest since Nov. 7, while Indian rupee forwards reached the strongest levels in four months. Nickel increased a seventh day amid concern supplies may be cut if sanctions are imposed over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Global stocks are trading at their most expensive level this year, with MSCI’s gauge of world equities up 0.6 percent in a fifth week of gains, as concern eases that Russia’s incursion into Ukraine will spark a broader conflict. Economists project payrolls data will show hiring rose last month to a level below last year’s average amid frigid weather. China’s onshore bond market may face its first default today as the country’s top lawmakers hold their annual policy-setting meeting in Beijing.
“What’s expected this year is that the U.S. economy will accelerate,” Tony Crescenzi, a money manager atNewport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Management Co., said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “Equities could fair well. The employment statistics in the U.S. are due out and it might shape perceptions about what’s next.” Pimco has $1.9 trillion in assets.
Non-farm payrolls in the U.S. probably increased by 149,000 workers in February while the unemployment rate held 6.6 percent, according to the average of economists’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Payrolls climbed by a monthly average of 193,500 in 2013. Data yesterday showed claims for unemployment benefits fell to a three-month low last week, stoking speculation U.S. companies are confident economic growth will rebound after harsh winter weather depressed demand.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average increased 0.8 percent to bring its third weekly advance of 2014 to 2.8 percent. The Nikkei Volatility Index, a reflection of expected stock swings, fell 2.1 percent today to reduce its first increase in four weeks to 1.7 percent. The Kospi 200 Volatility Index dropped 2.9 percent in a fourth declining day.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) increased 0.5 percent as a measure of Chinese companies listed in the city added 1 percent.
The MSCI All-Country World Index has recovered to a six-year high after falling the most in a month March 3 as Russia seized control of Ukraine’s Crimea region. The gauge rose every other day this week.
Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, needs to back down on Ukraine or face rising pressure from the U.S. and its allies, President Barack Obama said. Obama’s administration restricted visas for Ukrainian and Russian officials who it says are threatening the former Soviet republic’s sovereignty. Lawmakers in Ukraine’s Crimea region called a referendum to return the Black Sea peninsula to Russian control.