Asian Stocks Gain for 2nd Day

Asian stocks surged for a second day after the U.S. government proposed buying $700 billion of bank assets and Australia and Taiwan restricted the short sale of equities.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan's biggest bank, rose 3.7 percent after the U.S. Treasury planned buying mortgage and other bank assets to avert a financial meltdown. Macquarie Group Ltd. soared 15 percent after Australia's regulator banned speculators from borrowing stocks and selling them in the hope of driving down the price. Bank of China Ltd. led a jump in Chinese shares after the nation's top securities regulator made it easier for companies to buy back stock.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 2.4 percent to 116.88 as of 10:40 a.m. in Tokyo, extending the 5.5 percent jump of Sept. 19. Financial stocks were the biggest contributor to the gains.

The regional measure tumbled to the lowest in three years last week after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy, the U.S. government seized control of American International Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. was forced to sell itself to Bank of America Corp.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.9 percent to 12,142.70. Benchmarks advanced in all markets open for trading.

Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures fell 1 percent in after- hours trading. U.S. stocks advanced on Sept. 19, with the S&P 500 jumping 4 percent to cap its biggest two-day gain since the aftermath of the 1987 crash.

Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, rose 3.7 percent to 894 yen, the highest since Aug. 6. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan's second-largest by market value, advanced 3.6 percent to 683,000 yen. Kookmin Bank, South Korea's largest, added 4.1 percent to 58,200 won.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's rescue plan would allow the government to buy a variety of mortgage-related securities to relieve a freeze in credit markets. Democrats, who control both houses of the U.S. Congress, pledged not to slow down its passage or tie it to an economic stimulus plan.

Since the start of 2007, global financial companies have reported more than $510 billion in credit losses and writedowns linked to the slump in the U.S. housing market and slowing economic growth.

Macquarie, Australia's largest securities firm, added 15 percent to A$41.40. Babcock & Brown Co., which had lost 97 percent this year until Sept. 19, surged a record 109 percent to A$1.59.,
9/21/2008 8:08:33 PM