Asian Stocks Head for Weekly Gain on Hong Kong as Aussie Climbs

Asian stocks headed for a second weekly advance as Hong Kong stocks traded near a seven-year high. Australia’s dollar increased and U.S. oil headed for its fourth straight week of gains.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was set for a 2.7 percent gain on the week by 12:36 p.m. in Tokyo, climbing 0.1 percent as the Hang Seng Index advanced for a seventh day. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures lost 0.1 percent. The Aussie rose a fourth day as the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index pared its first Monday-to-Friday gain since March 13. U.S. oil is up 3.2 percent since April 2.

The value of global equities rose to a record $ 69.8 trillion this week, as Hong Kong stocks soared amid frenzied buying by mainland Chinese investors and speculation the government will do more to support growth in the world’s No. 2 economy. Stimulus from Asia to Europe is boosting shares, even as the U.S. heads toward tightening policy as soon as this year. China’s producer prices fell 4.6 percent in March, extending a record stretch of declines to 37 months.

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“This phenomenon of a large amount of money pushing into a space in the market in such a short period of time is exaggerating moves,” Tim Schroeders, a portfolio manager who helps oversee about $ 1 billion in equities at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “There seems to be a lot of speculation fueling fund flows in terms of policy stimulus from China, which may or may not happen.”

Stocks Climb

The MSCI All Country World Index closed at a record on Thursday as the Stoxx Europe 600 Index reached an all-time high and Chinese investors drove the rally in Hong Kong. The surge in China’s equities propelled the MSCI Emerging Markets Index to a 10th straight gain Friday, the longest streak since June 2010.

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The Hang Seng Index jumped 6.6 percent in the last two days, its biggest such advance since October 2011. A gauge of Chinese companies listed in the city surged 8.6 percent in the same period as investors bet that valuations would converge with those on the mainland, where the Shanghai Composite Index has doubled in 14 months.

The benchmark gauge for China’s biggest bourse rose 1.4 percent Friday, taking its gain this year to 24 percent amid speculation that the government will remain supportive of equities as it seeks to bolster domestic growth. China’s yuan headed for its biggest weekly drop in more than two months as data signaled the economy isn’t picking up.

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Nikkei 20,000

China’s consumer prices rose 1.4 percent in March from a year earlier, compared with the 1.3 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg survey, according to official data released Friday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average retreated 0.1 percent after earlier breaching 20,000 points for the first time since 2000. That level is about 51 percent of its December 1989 all-time high of 38,957.44. The broader Topix index lost 0.3 percent Friday, still headed for a weekly advance of 1.6 percent, the most since February.

The Kospi index in Seoul added 1.2 percent to its highest level since August. Moody’s Investors Service Inc. affirmed South Korea’s issuer and senior-unsecured credit rating at Aa3, and boosted the country’s outlook to positive, it said in a statement.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.4 percent in Sydney. Australia’s dollar climbed to 77.18 U.S. cents and has strengthened 1.1 percent this week. The Aussie and Brazil’s real are the only two of 16 major currencies to strengthen against the dollar through the last five days.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the U.S. currency versus 10 peers, jumped 0.8 percent Thursday. It remains on track for a weekly gain of 1.5 percent, its first in four weeks.

Peg Defense

The Hong Kong dollar was little changed Friday at HK$ 7.7503 a dollar after the city’s monetary authority intervened for the first time since August 2014 to stem gains. Hong Kong’s de facto central bank said it bought $ 400 million Thursday at HK$ 7.75 a dollar, the upper limit of a convertibility range that triggers intervention.

Fewer Americans filed jobless claims in the past four weeks than at any time in almost 15 years, a report Thursday showed. The data came a day after minutes of the Fed’s last meeting suggested the first rate increase since 2006 is still on the table for this year.

The dollar index gained 6.3 percent this year through yesterday as the Fed’s intention to tighten policy contrasted with easing and stimulus elsewhere.

West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.1 percent to $ 50.73 a barrel after rising 0.7 percent Thursday. Brent rose 0.4 percent to $ 56.78 in London.

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