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06.03.2013 08:01

Stocks: Tuesday’s review

Asian stocks climbed, with the regional benchmark index rising after two days of losses, amid speculation central bankers will continue stimulus measures and as China maintained its economic-growth target for 2013.

Nikkei 225 11,683.45 +31.16 +0.27%

Hang Seng 22,560.5 +22.69 +0.10%

S&P/ASX 200 5,075.36 +64.84 +1.29%

Shanghai Composite 2,326.31 +52.90 +2.33%

James Hardie Industries SE, a building-materials supplier that gets two-thirds of its sales from the U.S., rose 3.9 percent in Sydney.

SK Hynix Inc., the world’s second-largest maker of computer memory chips, added 3.9 percent in Seoul after Kiwoom Securities Co. said chip prices will continue to gain this month.

Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s biggest clothier, jumped 5.5 percent in Tokyo after reporting same-store sales at its Uniqlo outlets in Japan increased last month.

European stocks rose, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rallying to a 4 1/2-year high, amid speculation that central banks around the world will continue with measures to support economic recovery.

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen said yesterday the U.S. central bank should press on with its $85-billion monthly bond purchases. Yellen echoed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s comment last week that the benefits of the Fed’s low interest rates and $3.1 trillion balance sheet outweigh any risk of financial instability.

In Asia, Kikuo Iwata, a nominee for deputy governor at the Bank of Japan, said the monetary authority should buy longer- term bonds to help it achieve a 2 percent inflation target.

China plans to raise its budget deficit by 50 percent this year as the government cuts taxes and boosts measures to support consumer demand in the world’s second-biggest economy. Premier Wen Jiabao set a growth target of 7.5 percent for 2013.

In the euro area, officials indicated that budget policies may be eased after a backlash against austerity plans.

Economic strains may “justify in a certain number of cases reviewing deadlines for the correction of excessive deficits,” European Union Economic and Monetary Commissioner Olli Rehn told reporters late yesterday.

National benchmark indexes climbed in all of the 18 western European markets except Greece. France’s CAC 40 rose 2.1 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 1.4 percent. Germany’s DAX added 2.3 percent.

Standard Chartered climbed 3.2 percent to 1,837.5 pence, the highest price since December 2010. Britain’s second-largest lender by market value said pretax profit rose to $6.88 billion from $6.78 billion a year earlier. That beat the $6.84 billion estimate of analysts.

Serco rallied 8.9 percent to 630.5 pence, the biggest jump since September 2003. The U.K. services company that operates prisons and London’s Docklands Light Railway posted 6 percent growth in adjusted pretax profit and increased the dividend 20 percent to 10.1 pence.

Roche Holding AG, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, gained 1.4 percent to 218.30 Swiss francs, the highest price since October 2007. The company obtained European Union approval for its breast-cancer drug Perjeta. Separately, Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan confirmed the company’s 2013 sales and earnings forecasts and said he expects Roche will be able to raise its dividend for this year.

Deutsche Post AG increased 5.8 percent to 17.99 euros, the highest price since June 2008. Europe’s biggest postal service said fourth-quarter net income totaled 542 million euros ($707 million), topping the average 482 million-euro analyst forecast. The company said it expects 2013 earnings before interest and taxes in the range of 2.70 billion euros to 2.95 billion euros. That compared with the average analyst estimate calling for 2.87 billion euros.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to a record, erasing losses from the financial crisis, as China vowed to maintain its growth target and investors bet central banks will continue stimulus measures.

The bull market in U.S. equities enters its fifth year this month. The S&P 500 has surged 128 percent from a 12-year low in 2009 as companies reported better-than-estimated earnings and the Federal Reserve embarked on three rounds of bond purchases to stimulate the economy.

Stimulus Measures

U.S. stock indexes advanced this week amid optimism the Fed will maintain stimulus measures to support the economic recovery. Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen said yesterday the U.S. central bank should press on with $85 billion in monthly bond buying while tracking possible costs and risks from the unprecedented program.

Global equities also rose today as China pledged to support economic expansion. The nation will keep its growth target at 7.5 percent for this year and plans a 10 percent jump in fiscal spending, the government said during the start of the National People’s Congress today.

The Institute for Supply Management’s index of U.S. non- manufacturing businesses, which covers about 90 percent of the economy, rose to 56 in February from the prior month’s 55.2, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said today. Readings above 50 signal expansion. The ISM services survey covers industries ranging from utilities and retailing to housing, health care and finance.

All 10 groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 27 out of 30 stocks in the Dow rose. Apple Inc. rallied 2.6 percent for its first gain in five days. Qualcomm Inc. jumped 2 percent as it increased its dividend by 40 percent and set up a $5 billion share buyback plan. J.C. Penney Co. sank 11 percent after its second-biggest shareholder sold part of its stake.

At the close:

S&P 500 1,539.79 +14.59 +0.96%

NASDAQ 3,224.13 +42.10 +1.32%

Dow 14,253.77 +125.95 +0.89%

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