Asian Stocks Gain on Rates

Asian stocks, bonds and currencies surged after China, Taiwan and the U.S. cut interest rates to boost bank lending and economic growth. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index headed for a record three-day gain.

South Korea's Kospi index climbed 11 percent, led by Samsung Electronics Co. and Posco, after the U.S. Federal Reserve agreed to provide the nation with $30 billion in a currency swap. The won surged the most in a decade. BHP Billiton Ltd. advanced as commodities rallied. Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Co. added more than 11 percent as a lower yen boosted their profit outlooks.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 7.9 percent to 87.09 as of 2:22 p.m. in Tokyo, set to complete its biggest three-day gain since the gauge was created in 1987. Today's advance pared the monthly loss to 19 percent, the worst on record.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 7.9 percent to 8,863.83 as Softbank Corp. gained by its daily limit.

Futures on the U.S. Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 2.5 percent today. U.S. stocks declined yesterday, with the benchmark index erasing a 3.1 percent advance in the final 12 minutes, on concern lower interest rates won't stem a recession.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index added 97.50 points, or 2.5 percent, to 3,943.10 as of 12:13 p.m. in Sydney, after advancing 1.3 percent yesterday from its lowest close in four years.

China's stocks rose, led by financial companies, after the central bank lowered borrowing costs for the third time in two months to bolster the world's fourth-largest economy. The CSI 300 Index, which tracks yuan-denominated stocks traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen, rose 63.95, or 3.9 percent, to 1,722.17 as of 1:41 p.m. local time. About 13 stocks climbed for each that fell, with financial stocks contributing about half of the index's advance.

India's Sensitive Index rose for a second day. Hindalco Industries Ltd., India's largest non-ferrous metals producer, surged 18 percent, its biggest advance in more than 16 years, after some investors judged the recent declines excessive. The benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index, or Sensex, added 36.43, or 0.4 percent, to 9,044.51, extending yesterday's 5.9 percent gain.

Yesterday, U.S. stocks dropped as the Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost a 3.1 percent rally in the final 12 minutes of trading on concern that the Federal Reserve's sixth interest- rate cut this year isn't enough to rescue the economy.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 10.42 points, or 1.1 percent, to 930.09, one day after surging 11 percent. The Dow average slumped 74.16, or 0.8 percent, to 8,990.96. Three stocks gained for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Canadian stocks rose, with commodity shares leading the main index toward its biggest two-day gain in 33 years, as the Federal Reserve lowered borrowing costs to boost growth and the U.S. dollar weakened. The Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite Index rose 3.82 percent to 9,501.56 for a two-day gain of 12 percent, the steepest since 1973.

Brazilian stocks rose to the highest in a week on surging commodity prices and speculation the central bank may halt six months of interest-rate increases as the government prepares measures to help the nation's homebuilders. The Bovespa gained 1,458, or 4.37 percent.,
10/29/2008 11:44:36 PM