SINGAPORE: Asian stocks rose as commodity prices advanced and a Federal Reserve official said U.S. economic growth next year may be stronger than some economists forecast, boosting confidence in a global economic recovery.
Komatsu Ltd., the world's second-biggest maker of earthmoving machines, gained 1% in Tokyo. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's No. 1 mining company and Australia's top oil producer, climbed 0.9% in Sydney today. Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. advanced 4% in Seoul after parent Hyundai Group's bid to buy South Korea's largest builder collapsed. "Consensus is forming that the global economy is gradually getting better," said Kenichi Hirano, general manager and strategist at Tachibana Securities Co. "Growth in the world economy is boosting commodity prices, and surplus money is going into commodities and stocks." The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.3% to 133.73 as of 9:51 a.m. in Tokyo, with three stocks increasing for each that fell. The gauge climbed to a 2 1/2-year intraday high on Dec. 14 as U.S. economic reports boosted confidence in a global recovery, easing concerns that Europe's debt crisis and China's measures to slow inflation will hurt growth. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 0.6%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5% and New Zealand's NZX 50 Index both increased 0.3%. South Korea's Kospi Index gained 0.8% as tensions on the Korean peninsula eased after the North did not retaliate to military drills on a disputed island. Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were little changed today. The index climbed 0.3% yesterday in New York as Barclays Plc raised its share-price estimate on Amazon.com Inc. and energy shares rallied. The index is near its closing level on Sept. 12, 2008, the last trading day before the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (wiw)
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