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Asia Stocks, Oil, Metals Advance as China’s Exports Soar 17.7%

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) — Asian stocks rose and commodities gained after China’s exports surged in December and imports rose to a record, signs the global economic recovery is accelerating.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index excluding Japan Index climbed 1.5 percent to 433.82 as of 3:15 p.m. in Tokyo, led by commodity producers. Oil advanced to a 15-month high, gold jumped 1.8 percent to $1,158.40 an ounce, the most in a month, and copper for three-month delivery on the London Metal Exchange rose as much as 2.9 percent to $7,675 a metric ton.

China, the engine of recovery from the world’s worst recession since World War II, yesterday said exports climbed 17.7 percent from a year earlier, the first increase in 14 months, and imports surged 55.9 percent. U.S. retail sales are expected to rise 0.5 percent in December, according to a Bloomberg News survey of 57 economists, easing concerns about the pace of the recovery, caused by the loss of 85,000 jobs in the world’s largest economy in the same month.

“The whole recovery story is unfolding very well,” said Nader Naeimi, a Sydney-based strategist at AMP Capital Investors, which oversees about $75 billion. “China is on track and the fact that export numbers are very strong shows external demand from the developed world is gaining traction as well.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index climbed for the 13th day in 14. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.8 percent. percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1 percent, led by brokerages and banks after the government approved the use of stock index futures, fanning speculation the derivative will boost trading volumes. The Hang Seng Index gained 1.4 percent. Japanese markets are closed today for a holiday.

S&P Futures Gain

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.4 percent. The gauge rose 0.3 percent to a 15-month high on Jan. 8 as speculation the Federal Reserve will leave interest rates near zero overshadowed the unexpected decline in jobs.

Mining companies and steelmakers accounted for 35 percent of the MSCI index’s advance today on optimism growth in China, the world’s third-largest economy, will stimulate demand for metals.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, gained 1.9 percent to A$44.47. Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s largest gold producer, climbed 1.7 percent to A$36.82.

Posco, South Korea’s largest steelmaker, climbed 3.1 percent to 625,000 won. Hyundai Securities Co. raised its share- price estimate to 750,000 won, citing an improvement in the global steel industry.

Copper Rebounds

Copper advanced for the first day in three, before trading at $7,650 in Asia. Copper imports by China climbed for a second month, extending a rebound from a nine-month low. Lead jumped 3.3 percent and nickel leaped 3.1 percent.

Crude oil rose for a second day, with the contract for February delivery gaining as much as 92 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $83.67 a barrel in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $83.46 in Asia trading.

Oil climbed 4.3 percent last week and gained in 11 of the past 12 sessions as freezing temperatures in Europe and North America boosted fuel demand. Heating oil rose as much as 1.1 percent to $2.2239 a gallon on Nymex, the highest level since Oct. 14, 2008.

Gold rose as the dollar slumped. It traded at $1,154.40 in Asia. The Australian dollar climbed to a one-month high, gaining 0.6 percent from Asian trading on Jan. 8 to 93.05 U.S. cents. The New Zealand dollar strengthened 1 percent to 73.88 U.S. cents and the South Korean won gained 0.8 percent to 1,121.2, its seventh day of gains and the longest winning streak in three months.

Dollar Weakens

The dollar fell to a three-week low against the euro and slid to the weakest since October versus its Canadian counterpart as the signs Asian growth is gaining pace boosted demand for higher-yielding and commodity currencies.

Yuan forwards jumped to the highest in eight weeks with 12- month non-deliverable contracts advancing 0.5 percent to 6.5920 per dollar on speculation China will allow its currency to strengthen. China has effectively pegged the yuan at about 6.83 per dollar since July 2008 to help exporters weather a slump in demand triggered by the global financial crisis.

“It does underscore the continued improvement in global export demand,” said David Cohen, director of Asian forecasting at Action Economics in Singapore. “Perhaps Beijing will be more into tolerating renewed appreciation.”

China overtook Germany as the world’s No. 1 exporter of goods in 2009 even as the Asian nation reported yesterday its first annual decline in shipments in more than 25 years. China’s central bank last week guided three-month bill yields higher for the first time since August, and said it will focus on lendning and inflation, limiting the risks of real-estate bubbles and resurgent inflation.

Treasury Futures Fall

U.S. Treasury futures declined, signaling cash bonds are likely to weaken when trading opens later today.

Two-year Treasury yields fell to the lowest level in two weeks on Jan. 8, and longer-maturity yields rose, after a U.S. payrolls report showed the economy unexpectedly lost jobs in December, boosting the prospects that the Federal Reserve will wait longer to remove its stimulus measures and raise interest rates. The Federal Funds Implied Probability shows a 34 percent chance that rates will remain unchanged up to the Aug. 10 meeting, up from 14 percent a week ago.

The so-called yield curve, or the difference between two- and 10-year rates, steepened to 2.85 percentage points from 2.75 a week ago. It reached a record 2.88 percentage points on Dec. 22.