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06.12.2011 09:02

Stocks: Monday’s review

Asian stocks rose for a sixth day, with Asia’s benchmark index headed for its longest winning streak since Oct. 13, as Italy took steps to trim its debt before European Union leaders meet this week to tackle the region’s crisis.

Stocks gained after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti yesterday announced 30 billion euros ($40 billion) of austerity and growth measures. Monti will present the package, which includes a tax on luxury goods, resurrects a property levy on first homes, and forces many workers to delay retirement, to both houses of parliament today. German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets French President Nicolas Sarkozy today to advance a plan for stricter enforcement of the region’s deficit rules that will be presented to European leaders at a summit in Brussels on Dec. 9.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.6 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.8 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index advanced 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.7 percent.

Banking shares gave the biggest boost to the MSCI Asia Pacific index amid optimism Europe’s debt crisis won’t damage the global financial system. Six central banks led by the Federal Reserve on Nov. 30 introduced measures to lower dollar borrowing costs for European lenders.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group advanced 2.1 percent to 345 yen, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s second- biggest bank by market value, gained 2.2 percent to 2,212 yen. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australia’s biggest lender by market value, rose 0.8 percent to A$49.96.

Exporters to the U.S. advanced. Li & Fung added 3.3 percent to HK$16.94 in Hong Kong. Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker by market value, gained 2.7 percent to 2,663 yen in Tokyo.

Gains in Asian stocks were limited as Chinese stocks fell after a purchasing managers’ index for November dropped to 49.7 from 57.7 the previous month, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said on its website. The Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the biggest Chinese stock exchange, slid 1.2 percent.

Anhui Conch Cement Co., China’s largest maker of the building material, dropped 2.1 percent to HK$25.75 in Hong Kong. China Railway Group Ltd., which is helping build the mainland’s train rail system, dropped 3.4 percent to HK$2.55.

Australian mining companies rose after the nation ended a ban on uranium exports to India to open a new market for suppliers and strengthen diplomatic ties between the countries.

Energy Resources, controlled by Rio Tinto Group, rose 9.8 percent to A$1.57 at the close of trading in Sydney. Exploration company Deep Yellow surged 10 percent. BHP Billiton Ltd. rose 1.7 percent to A$37.26 and Rio Tinto gained 1 percent to A$67.

European stocks rose, with the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index extending its biggest weekly rally since November 2008, as Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti introduced a proposal to cut his nation’s debt.

Monti presented a plan to reduce the European Union’s second-biggest debt to the Chamber of Deputies in Rome today. The budget package came at the start of a critical week for Europe’s efforts to prevent Italy and Spain from succumbing to the crisis and causing a breakup of the single currency. France and Germany want a new EU treaty to set out the rules for euro-area governments, President Nicolas Sarkozy said after meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel and Sarkozy are developing a plan for stricter enforcement of the region’s deficit rules that they will present to EU leaders at a summit on Dec. 9.

National benchmark indexes climbed in every western- European market. France’s CAC 40 Index advanced 1.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.3 percent. Germany’s DAX Index increased 0.4 percent.

A gauge of European banks advanced 2.5 percent. UniCredit, Italy’s biggest lender, jumped 5.4 percent to 83.6 euro cents. Intesa Sanpaolo added 3.9 percent to 1.35 euros and BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, rose 4.9 percent to 33.16 euros.

SAP slipped 2.5 percent to 43.61 euros. The German software maker agreed to buy San Mateo, California-based SuccessFactors on Dec. 3 to better meet demand for new technologies such as cloud computing, real-time analytics and mobile applications.

Commerzbank AG declined 4.1 percent to 1.44 euros as Germany’s second-largest bank offered to repurchase as much as 600 million euros of hybrid equity instruments.

U.S. stocks rose, following the best weekly rally since 2009, as optimism that Europe will tame its debt crisis helped the market weather a late-day selloff on reports that euro-area nations' credit outlooks may be cut.

Italian borrowing costs dropped as Prime Minister Mario Monti offered parliament a 30 billion-euro ($40 billion) package of austerity and growth measures. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed for a rewrite of the EU’s governing rules to tighten economic cooperation. Merkel and Sarkozy presented a common platform for a Dec. 8-9 summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

Stocks pared gains in the afternoon as two officials familiar with the S&P decision said the agency may downgrade euro nations. After the market closed, S&P announced that it put 15 euro nations on review for possible downgrade. Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Luxembourg, the euro area’s six AAA rated countries, are among the nations being placed on “creditwatch negative,” pending the result of the EU summit, S&P said.

All 10 groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained, with a gauge of financial shares adding 2.1 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) advanced at least 2.6 percent.

MetLife climbed 3.7 percent to $32.92. Next year’s operating profit, which excludes some investment results, will be $4.80 to $5.20 a share, the New York-based company said today in a statement. That compares with the average $5.08 estimate (MET) of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Gannett surged 10 percent, the biggest gain since September 2009, to $13.13. The company was raised to “buy” from “neutral” at Lazard Capital Markets, which cited increased chances for a dividend boost.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. soared 12 percent to $4.70, pacing gains in hospital operators. A program to pre-approve Medicare hospital payments for pacemakers and joint replacements is limited to Florida, a U.S. doctor’s group said. Hospital and medical device stocks tumbled on Dec. 2 after a report said Medicare, the U.S. health plan for the elderly and disabled, won’t pay for a range of heart and orthopedic procedures in 11 states until contractors confirm the care was appropriate.

SuccessFactors Inc. surged 51 percent to $39.75. SAP AG, the largest maker of business-management software, agreed to buy the company for $3.4 billion in cash to keep pace with rival Oracle Corp. in the cloud-computing market.

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