Asia stocks rise on growth hopes, BOJ pick

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SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stock markets rose Thursday as positive economic indicators and the nomination of a pro-stimulus Bank of Japan chief bolstered hopes for faster growth.

Tokyo’s benchmark led gains in regional stocks after the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated Haruhiko Kuroda, currently president of the Asian Development Bank, to head Japan’s central bank. The Nikkei 225 stock average was up 2.1 percent to 11,490.36.

Kuroda is seen as a supporter of Abe’s efforts to overcome Japan’s 20 years of economic stagnation with bolder monetary easing, a weaker yen and bigger government spending.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi was up 1 percent at 2,024.14 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.2 percent to 22,850.85. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.2 percent to 5,097.10. Stocks in mainland China, Singapore and Thailand also rose.

Kuroda’s nomination and expectations for a weaker yen whetted investor appetite for exporters in Tokyo stock markets. Shares of Sony Corp. jumped 2.9 percent and Toyota Motor Corp. soared 2.4 percent.

Investors also welcomed a string of improved economic figures from Asia, Europe and the United States that helped to offset concern about Italy’s hung parliament and government spending cuts in the U.S.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said industrial production rose 1 percent from the month before in January, the second straight monthly increase. The ministry suggested a slump in output had bottomed.

On Wednesday, new figures from the U.S. National Association of Realtors showed pending sales rose 4.5 percent in January, the biggest increase since April 2010.

The Commerce Department said orders of U.S. long-lasting factory goods, or so-called core capital goods, rose 6.3 percent in January from December, indicating companies are willing to expand their production capacities.

“Solid U.S. data helped investors shrug off worries as the private sector continues spending,” said Lee Sun-yup, a market analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp. in Seoul. “Private sector spending can cushion the impact from the automatic government spending cuts that will slow the economy.”

And in Europe, a survey showed economic sentiment in the 17 euro countries rising by more than anticipated in February.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 175.24 points, or 1.2 percent, to 14,075.37. The Standard and Poor’s 500 index gained 19.05 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,515.99. The Nasdaq composite rose 32.61 points, or 1.3 percent, to 3,162.26.

In currency markets, the euro was almost flat at $1.3141. The dollar was steady at 92.262 yen.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 28 cents to $93.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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