Asian stocks follow U.S. rally amid stimulus optimism, earnings

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TOKYO (Oct 22): Asian stocks rose, following the steepest U.S. rally in a year, amid speculation Europe’s central bank would add stimulus and as Apple Inc.’s record holiday sales forecast buoyed optimism about U.S. company earnings.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.7 percent to 136.94 as of 9:04 a.m. in Tokyo, with consumer and industrial shares leading the advance. The gauge has rebounded this week after sinking to an almost seven-month low on Oct. 17. As the Federal Reserve winds down stimulus, investors are looking to the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan to bolster the outlook for the global economy.

“The bottom line is Japan and ECB will fill the gap left by the Fed,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. “It looks to me like a typical correction market. Sentiment gets pushed to a negative extreme, markets become undervalued again and smart investors find opportunities to buy back in.”

Japan’s Topix index rose 1.8 percent after the yen weakened for a fourth day yesterday. South Korea’s Kospi index added 1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.8 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rallied 0.4 percent. Markets in Hong Kong and China are yet to open.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 0.1 percent today after the underlying measure surged 2 percent yesterday, the most since Oct. 10, 2013. The ECB bought Italian covered bonds as it returned to the market for a second day under its asset purchase program, according to two people familiar with the matter. Reuters earlier reported the ECB is looking to buy corporate bonds on the secondary market amid growing concern the euro area’s economic growth is slowing.

Apple Sales

Apple rallied after saying revenue in the current quarter will be $63.5 billion to $66.5 billion. That compares with the $63.5 billion average estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey and exceeds Apple’s holiday sales at the end of last year. The company introduced bigger-screen iPhones, slimmer iPads and a mobile-payments service this year.

Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.5 percent in their most recent trading session, and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index added 0.8 percent.