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Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index set for the highest close in almost three months, after the yen fell and Apple Inc. reported quarterly profit more than doubled, boosting the earnings outlook for Asian exporters.
Sony Corp. (6758), Japan’s No. 1 exporter of consumer electronics, advanced 4.8 percent. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (000660) paced gains among suppliers to Apple after the world’s largest technology company gained in after-hours trading. Lynas Corp., an Australian rare- earths miner, rose 5.1 percent after selling a $225 million convertible bond to help fund a delayed refinery.
European stocks fell for a second day after Ericsson AB and Novartis AG posted earnings that missed analysts’ estimates. The U.K. economy shrank in the fourth quarter more than economists had forecast as manufacturers cut output and services stagnated, leaving Britain on the brink of another recession. Bank of England policy makers voted unanimously this month to keep their target for bond purchases unchanged, with some officials saying more stimulus is “likely” to be needed after the current program is complete.
The Federal Reserve will release rate forecasts for the first time today. Business and political leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the start of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.
National benchmark indexes fell in 12 of the 18 western- European markets today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid 0.5 percent, France’s CAC 40 Index declined 0.3 percent and Germany’s DAX Index added less than 0.1 percent.
Ericsson, the world’s largest maker of wireless networks, plunged 14 percent after reporting fourth-quarter net income that missed analysts’ estimates.
Novartis, Europe’s biggest drugmaker by sales, declined 2.5 percent.
ARM Holdings Plc climbed 3 percent after Apple Inc. posted quarterly profit that more than doubled. ARM is the U.K. owner of chip technology used in Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
U.S. stocks rose, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the highest level since May, as the Federal Reserve signaled low rates through at least late 2014 and didn’t rule out bond purchases to bolster the economy.
Benchmark gauges reversed losses as the Fed extended its previous pledge to keep rates low at least until the middle of 2013 as more than two years of economic growth have failed to push unemployment below 8.5 percent. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said central bankers are still debating additional asset purchases.
Gold producers rallied as the metal climbed to a six-week high. Newmont Mining Corp., the largest U.S. gold producer, jumped 4.8 percent to $60.25. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., the world’s largest publicly traded copper producer, climbed 4.8 percent to $46.08.
Apple rallied 6.2 percent, the most since May 2010, to $446.66. The company sold 37 million iPhones in the period ended Dec. 31, with customers snapping up the new 4S model that went on sale in October, a week after the death of co-founder Steve Jobs. Record revenue vaulted Apple ahead of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) as the world’s biggest computer maker by sales and quelled concern that the company’s allure may dim as it embarks on a new era with Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook at the helm.
Textron surged 15 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $24.76. Chief Executive Officer Scott Donnelly is working to leverage the company’s businesses with measures such as having Cessna and Bell share overseas service centers and sales forces. Textron is winding down its finance unit, which struggled during the recession.
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