Asian Stocks Fluctuate

Asian stocks fluctuated, with the region’s benchmark index paring gains that drove valuations to the highest levels since December 2007., Bloomberg 3/27/2009 5:20:32 AM

Samsung Electronics Co., Asia’s biggest maker of flat screens and mobile phones, rose 2.5 percent in Seoul as U.S. electronics retailer Best Buy Co. reported profit that topped analysts’ estimates. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-largest mining company, climbed 4 percent in Sydney after metals prices advanced yesterday. Tokyo Electric Power Co., Japan’s biggest power company, lost 2.7 percent amid speculation higher oil prices will raise fuel costs.

Five stocks advanced for every four that declined on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, which was little changed at 85.46 as of 7:20 p.m. in Tokyo. The gauge jumped 7.5 percent this week, the biggest weekly gain since the period ended Aug. 24, 2007. The gauge has risen 21 percent from a five-year low on March 9, technically entering a bull market, amid optimism governments are succeeding in efforts to revive economic growth.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.1 percent, paring its increase this week to 8.6 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.7 percent. All markets advanced except South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.

The MSCI World Index was little changed at 841.52, taking its advance in March to 12 percent. Shares have rallied this month as the U.S. and Japan pledged to buy government debt, while banks including Barclays Plc reported strong starts to the year. The U.S. Treasury announced on March 23 plans to rid banks of toxic real-estate assets.

MSCI’s Asian benchmark gauge rose 14 percent in March, the biggest monthly gain since October 1998, when governments were cutting interest rates to alleviate the Asian financial crisis.