Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose after a four-day selloff as crude oil fell below $100 a barrel amid easing concern about supply disruptions in the Middle East, and as chipmakers climbed.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. surged 3.8 percent in Hong Kong as the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the International Energy Agency said they can compensate for any disruption to Libyan oil shipments. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. gained 4.1 percent in Seoul after analysts said prices for memory chips may climb next month. Toyota Motor Corp. rallied 2.2 percent after Credit Suisse Group AG recommended the world’s largest carmaker.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.9 percent to 136.51 as of 3:43 p.m. in Tokyo, with about twice as many stocks advancing as declining. The gauge has dropped 2.4 percent this week as crude climbed above $100 a barrel for the first time in two years amid escalating violence in Libya, which has the largest oil reserves in Africa.
“Shares are correcting from the recent declines, helped by an easing in the oil price,” said Yoshinori Nagano, a senior strategist in Tokyo at Daiwa Asset Management Co., which oversees about $104 billion.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average and South Korea’s Kospi Index climbed 0.7 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.6 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index was little changed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rallied 1.6 percent.
“The reassurance from Saudi Arabia to lift output and offset Libyan production seems to have helped,” said Prasad Patkar, who helps manage about $1.8 billion at Platypus Asset Management Ltd. in Sydney.
U.S. Futures Rise
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.4 percent today. Most stocks in the index climbed yesterday, boosted by the drop in oil and a bigger-than-estimated decline in U.S. jobless claims last week.
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s biggest airline, surged 3.8 percent to HK$17.72. Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea’s largest carrier, advanced 4.8 percent to 64,000 won, ending the week with a 9.2 percent plunge. Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s largest carrier, rose 2.2 percent to A$2.38 in Sydney today.
New York oil futures retreated from $103.41 yesterday, the highest in 29 months, after President Barack Obama said the U.S. will be able to “ride out” a cut resulting from turmoil in Libya. Crude for April delivery lost as much as 0.7 percent $96.61 a barrel. It traded at $97.77 a barrel at 11:37 a.m. Sydney time.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s grip on the nation weakened yesterday as a close adviser abandoned him, opponents consolidated their control of the country’s oil-rich east, and Switzerland froze some of his assets.
‘World Could Cope’
“The world could adequately cope without Libyan oil if supply was disrupted for a period of time,” said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne. “The greater concern is the contagion of civil unrest throughout the Middle East and North Africa.”
Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., which generates about 38 percent of sales from the Middle East, climbed 6.5 percent to 75,500 won in Seoul, while rival Samsung Engineering Co. advanced 5 percent to 187,500 won. Samsung has the biggest exposure to the Middle East and North Africa region at 79 percent of its third-quarter backlog, according to UBS AG.
Hynix, Elpida Gain
Information-technology companies rose the most among the MSCI Asia Pacific Index’s 10 industry groups. Hynix, the world’s second-largest maker of computer-memory chips, jumped 4.1 percent to 28,000 won. LIG Investment & Securities Co. said contract prices for chips may rise in March and analysts will increase their first-quarter earnings estimates for the company.
Elpida Memory Inc., the world’s No. 3 maker of computer- memory chips, rallied 6.4 percent to 1,216 yen in Tokyo. The company has scrapped plans to merge with Taiwanese memory makers because of opposition from the target companies, President and Chief Executive Officer Yukio Sakamoto said today.
HTC Corp., the world’s largest maker of handsets using Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. operating systems, surged by the 6.8 percent daily limit in Taipei to a record NT$1,065 on speculation the sale of new handsets from next month will boost revenue, according to Chen Wei-hang, an analyst at President Capital Management Corp.
Toyota increased 2.2 percent to 3,755 yen in Tokyo after Credit Suisse boosted its investment rating on the carmaker to “outperform” from “neutral.” The shares climbed even after the company recalled 2.17 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the U.S. for carpet and floor-mat flaws that could jam gas pedals.
Profit Boosts AIA
AIA Group Ltd. jumped 6.6 percent to HK$22.50 in Hong Kong after the third-largest Asian insurer by market value reported better-than-estimated earnings. The company had the biggest percentage gain in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index’s finance group.
Jiangxi Copper Co. advanced 2.8 percent to HK$23.90 in Hong Kong as China’s largest producer of the metal said its annual tax rate will drop to 15 percent from 25 percent for three years after the company was recognized as a “high-tech enterprise” by the provincial government.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 1.7 percent this year to yesterday, compared with gains of 3.9 percent by the S&P 500 and 1.7 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark were valued at 13.8 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.6 times for the S&P 500 and 11.1 times for the Stoxx 600.