Most Asia stocks rise after US shares hit records, yen weakens

SYDNEY (Bloomberg) - Most Asian stocks rose after U.S. equity gauges climbed to fresh records and the yen weakened, boosting Japanese shares.

About three stocks rose for every two that fell on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, which traded little changed at 153.39 as of 9:03 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan's Topix index added 0.2 per cent after the yen fell 0.6 per cent against the dollar on Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.3 per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.1 per cent, both closing at all-time highs. Investors are awaiting this week's U.S. housing data for clues as to whether the recovery in the world's largest economy can withstand higher interest rates.

"Patchy U.S. data means that the Fed is highly unlikely to begin its policy normalisation process until late in the December quarter," said Matthew Sherwood, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at Perpetual Ltd., which manages about US$21 billion. "There has been a large upward movement in the U.S. dollar in the past ten months and this has clearly weighed on U.S. growth. The Fed could not possibly be convinced that the economy is on the right track until growth is above 3 per cent for two consecutive quarters."

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.1 per cent and South Korea's Kospi index was little changed. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index slipped less than 0.1 per cent.

Data Monday showed confidence among U.S. homebuilders unexpectedly fell in May, reflecting a cooling off in sales and slower buyer traffic. Mixed economic data from retail sales to the labor market have bolstered speculation the Fed will be in no rush to raise rates. Fed Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans repeated his call for rates to be held near zero until early 2016 at a speech in Stockholm on Monday.