Stocks: Wednesday's review
Asian shares climbed after second-quarter growth in China came in stronger than expected, leaving investors more confident that the world’s second-largest economy was unlikely to come in for a hard landing.
Chinese shares advanced after figures showed gross domestic product rose 9.5 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, following a 9.7 per cent gain in the first quarter. Growth was the slowest in almost two years, which may reduce inflationary pressure in the second half, but was still stronger than many economists had expected. Industrial output growth accelerated to 15.1 per cent in June, from May’s 13.3 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite index gained 1.5 per cent to 2,795.5.
Agricultural Bank of China, the nation’s fourth-largest by assets, was up 1.9 per cent to Rmb2.71 after forecasting a rise of more than 45 per cent rise in first-half net profit. Shenzhen Development Bank gained 3.2 per cent to Rmb17.54 after estimating that first-half net profit rose 50-60 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 1.2 per cent to 21,926.88.
The FTSE Asia Pacific index was up 1 per cent at 262.42 as resource stocks across the region drew in bargain-hunters on speculation Chinese demand for raw materials would not fade sharply.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 0.4 per cent 9,963.14, with Mitsui & Co rising 2.1 per cent to Y1,432 after announcing a takeover bid for Singapore’s Portek International. Shares in Portek climbed 6.1 per cent to S$1.40.
European stocks rose, halting three days of losses for the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank is prepared to take additional action to support the economy.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) advanced 4.4 percent as Exane BNP Paribas upgraded the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars.
Burberry Group Plc (BRBY) surged 6.5 percent as the U.K.’s largest luxury-goods maker reported first-quarter sales that beat analysts’ estimates.
ASML Holding NV (ASML) tumbled 2.7 percent after Europe’s biggest semiconductor-equipment maker reported second- quarter orders that missed its own forecast.
BMW surged 4.4 percent to 70.18 euros as Exane raised its recommendation on the carmaker to “neutral” from “underperform.” Separately, Morgan Stanley lifted its share- price estimate to 72 euros from 66 euros.
Daimler AG (DAI), the maker of Mercedes trucks and luxury cars, rose 2.9 percent to 53.17 euros. Morgan Stanley increased its estimate for the company’s shares to 68 euros from 62 euros.
L’Oreal SA (OR), the world’s biggest cosmetics maker, declined 3.4 percent to 84.94 euros after reporting that second-quarter sales rose 0.9 percent to 4.99 billion euros. That missed the average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg for sales of 5.07 billion euros.
Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MKS) declined 2.5 percent to 363.8 pence after the U.K.’s largest clothing retailer said that first-quarter sales at stores in its domestic market open at least a year climbed 1.7 percent. That fell short of the average economists’ estimate for 2 percent growth.
U.S. stocks fell from earlier highs but still managed to snap a three-session losing streak Wednesday after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated that the central bank remains ready to provide additional stimulus.
But the big driver behind Wednesday's gains was Bernanke.
After months of adamantly denying another round of stimulus, the Fed chief opened the door a crack during his semi-annual address to Congress.
Bernanke told lawmakers that the central bank is "prepared to respond should economic developments indicate that an adjustment in the stance of monetary policy would be appropriate."
Companies: News Corp. (NWSA, Fortune 500) was a big winner on both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Shares spiked nearly 4% after the company withdrew its bid for satellite TV company British Sky Broadcasting. The media giant said it plans to remain a long-term shareholder of BSkyB.
Late Tuesday, Electronic Arts (ERTS) announced it is buying mobile game maker PopCap Games for $750 million in cash and stock. Shares of the company fell 1.1% Wednesday.
After the closing bell, fast food company Yum! Brands (YUM, Fortune 500) and hotel chain Marriott (MAR, Fortune 500) will report quarterly earnings.