Asian stocks rise third day on US economy optimism, weaker yen

Asian stocks rose for a third day after data on retail sales bolstered confidence in the strength of the United States economy and a weaker yen sent Japanese shares higher. -- PHOTO: AFP
Asian stocks rose for a third day after data on retail sales bolstered confidence in the strength of the United States economy and a weaker yen sent Japanese shares higher. -- PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks rose for a third day after data on retail sales bolstered confidence in the strength of the United States economy and a weaker yen sent Japanese shares higher.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.2 per cent to 147.81 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo (8.01 am Singapore time), headed for a 0.1 per cent decline this week. Japan's Topix index added 0.2 per cent after the yen slid 0.6 per cent against the dollar Thursday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 0.2 per cent as sales at U.S. retailers picked up in May and applications for unemployment benefits remained below 300,000 for a 14th straight week. The International Monetary Fund said its team negotiating with Greece left Brussels after failing to make progress on a debt deal.

"The U.S. numbers were quite strong," Tony Farnham, an analyst at Patersons Securities Ltd. in Sydney, said by phone. "Some investors are starting to realize that U.S. growth is OK and that should help justify the Fed normalizing rates later this year. The Greek problem needs to be fixed. It could cause a bit of dislocation in markets if Greece defaults."

European Union President Donald Tusk told Greece's Alexis Tsipras to stop maneuvering and decide whether to accept the conditions on financial aid. Mr Tusk abandoned his neutral position as a broker of EU compromises to signal Greece's creditors are preparing to hand Tsipras an ultimatum.

South Korea's Kospi index gained 0.6 per cent. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.1 per cent. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to open.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.3 per cent higher on Thursday, rising for the first time in three days as higher-than-estimated growth in industrial output and the broadest gauge of credit as well as a jump in new home sales signaled the nation's economy may be stabilizing.

E-mini futures on the S&P 500 slipped 0.1 per cent today.