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Asian stocks rose, rebounding from the biggest decline in seven weeks yesterday, as U.S. jobless claims fell and the selection of a new Greek premier tempered concern Europe’s debt crisis won’t be contained. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is poised to decline for a second week as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis stirred political turmoil across the region, with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou both offering to step down.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi Index jumped 2.8 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.9 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average added 0.2 percent, erasing losses of as much as 0.2 percent.
Exporters advanced. Sony, Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, the maker of PlayStation game consoles and Bravia televisions, climbed 2.4 percent to 1,354 yen in Tokyo. Canon Inc., the world’s biggest camera maker, gained 2.1 percent to 3,435 yen. LG Electronics Inc., Asia’s second-largest maker of mobile phones by sales, jumped 6.4 percent to 64,600 won in Seoul.
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, rose 3.1 percent in Hong Kong. Sinopec, as the Chinese oil refiner is known, gained after parent China Petrochemical Corp. agreed to pay $3.54 billion for a 30 percent stake in Galp Energia’s Brazilian unit, giving it access to the biggest oil discovery in the western hemisphere since 1976.
Esprit Holdings Ltd., the Hong Kong-based clothier that gets most of its sales from Europe, jumped 4.7 percent to HK$9.95 after Chief Executive Officer Ronald Van Der Vis bought 300,000 shares of Esprit at an average price of HK$10.632 on Nov. 7. The stock tumbled 74 percent this year through yesterday as earnings slumped.
Genting Singapore Plc slumped 5.9 percent after Citigroup Inc. lowered its rating to “sell” as the casino-resort operator posted sales and profit that missed analysts’ estimates.
Macau casino operators also declined on concern gambling spending in Asia may be slowing. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd., the gaming company founded by billionaire Lui Che-Woo, slumped 6.9 percent to HK$14.40. Wynn Macau Ltd. declined 5.6 percent to HK$20.25. Sands China Ltd., Asia’s biggest gambling company by revenue, fell 4.5 percent to HK$22.10.
European stocks advanced, recouping this week’s losses, after the Italian Senate approved an austerity package, raising optimism that the euro area’s second- most indebted country will contain the debt crisis.
The Senate in Rome voted 156 to 12 to pass the package of measures promised to the European Union in a bid to boost growth and cut Italy’s debt of 1.9 trillion euros ($2.6 trillion), the world’s fourth biggest. Opposition lawmakers did not take part in the vote, allowing the bill to pass.
In Greece, a new unity government led by Lucas Papademos was sworn in today with a mandate to implement budget measures and decisions related to a 130 billion-euro bailout agreed on an Oct. 26. Elections may take place on Feb. 19. The new government said Evangelos Venizelos will remain the country’s finance minister and deputy prime minister.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 15 of the 18 western European markets today. France’s CAC 40 rose 2.8 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 1.9 percent. Germany’s DAX rose 3.2 percent, while Italy’s FTSE MIB jumped 3.7 percent.
Telecom Italia SpA gained 5.3 percent after third-quarter net income surged 33 percent to 807 million euros, beating analysts’ estimates for 708.5 million euros.
Banks and insurers paced gains. BNP Paribas surged 5.7 percent to 32.24 euros. National Bank of Greece SA gained 2.5 percent to 2.09 euros and Alpha Bank SA added 2.9 percent to 1.08 euros.
Allianz SE, Europe’s biggest insurer, rose 5.6 percent to 76.25 euros after saying it is “ready to take a closer look” at assets such as mortgages that some troubled banks may sell. The company posted a bigger-than-estimated 84 percent drop in third-quarter profit after writing down Greek government debt and investments in financial companies.
Vivendi jumped 2.6 percent to 15.87 euros after its Universal Music Group unit agreed to buy the recorded-music assets of EMI Group from Citigroup Inc. in a deal valued at 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion).
Aker Solutions ASA, Norway’s biggest oil rig maker, rallied 8.5 percent to 71.50 kroner after the company signed a contract with Lundin Petroleum AB to build a 700 million kroner ($124 million) subsea production system for the Brynhild project on the Norwegian continental shelf. The contract is valued at 700 million kroner. Lundin Petroleum gained 5.5 percent to 176.20 kroner.
Galp Energia SGPS, Portugal’s largest oil company, slumped 11 percent to 13.25 euros, its biggest decline in three months, after an agreement to sell a 30 percent stake in its Brazil unit to China’s Sinopec Group for $3.54 billion.
U.S. stocks rallied, preventing a second straight weekly drop in benchmark indexes, as American consumer confidence topped estimates and Italy’s approval of debt-reduction plans eased concern about Europe’s debt crisis. Earlier gains were driven by a drop in Italian bond yields as the nation’s Senate approved budget measures in a bid to allow for a new government. In Greece, Lucas Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank, was sworn in as premier of a unity government. Stocks extended their rally as the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment rose to 64.2 this month, the highest since June. The median estimate of economists surveyed called for 61.5.
Dow 12,153.68 +259.89 +2.19%, Nasdaq 2,678.75 +53.60 +2.04%, S&P 500 1,263.85 +24.15 +1.95%
All 10 groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose as 487 stocks gained. Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Citigroup Inc. increased at least 2.4 percent as financial shares advanced. Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and Alcoa Inc. (AA) climbed more than 3.4 percent to pace gains among the biggest companies.
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) jumped 6 percent as the largest theme-park operator reported a 30 percent gain in profit, beating analysts’ projections. Higher fees from pay-TV operators, advertising gains and improved results at resorts drove revenue and profit growth. Disney resorts benefited from higher ticket prices and a new ship.
E*Trade Financial Corp. fell 4.1 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $9.09. The board of the online brokerage rejected putting the company up for sale. Before today, the shares dropped 41 percent in 2011, more than its bigger rivals Charles Schwab Corp. and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.
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