Asian stocks follow US shares higher ahead of China PMI report

SYDNEY (Bloomberg) - Asian stocks rose for a third day, after U.S. equities climbed toward records, as Japanese shares gained on a weaker yen and investors awaited a private report on Chinese manufacturing.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2 per cent to 154.99 as of 9:02 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan's Topix index increased 0.7 percent after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.5 per cent Wednesday. Economists forecast the preliminary HSBC Holdings Plc/Markit Economics manufacturing purchasing managers' index for China will come in at 49.6 for April, matching March's reading. Futures on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index and Hang Seng Index climbed at least 0.7 per cent.

"The mass inflows into Chinese equities look set to continue," said Stan Shamu, Melbourne-based market strategist at IG Ltd. "The likes of the H-Shares and the Hang Seng are cheap compared to historical measures and regional peers. I expect Chinese indices to continue their outperformance in the coming few months."

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index trades at 10.3 times estimated earnings and the Hang Seng Index has a multiple of 13.4. That compares with 14.7 on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index and 17.9 on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.6 per cent as the yen slid for a fourth day against the U.S. dollar. The measure closed above 20,000 yesterday for the first time since April 2000.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi index climbed 0.5 percent after the nation's first-quarter gross domestic product beat estimates. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index slipped 0.2 per cent. Markets in Hong Kong and China have yet to open.