Sunday, May 4, 2008

Asian Stocks Climb on Rally in Commodities; BHP Billiton Gains

By Chen Shiyin

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks advanced, lifting the region's benchmark to an almost four-month high, after copper and crude oil prices rallied.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's largest mining company and Australia's biggest oil producer, advanced in Sydney. STX Pan Ocean Co. led shipping stocks higher after the price of transporting bulk commodities jumped to the highest in almost five months. Incitec Pivot Ltd. climbed after Australia's biggest fertilizer maker said its first-half profit almost tripled.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index advanced 0.1 percent to 498.41 as of 9:29 a.m. in Hong Kong, with a measure of raw material suppliers adding 1.1 percent. The regional benchmark was poised for its highest close since Jan. 15.

Markets in Japan, South Korea and Thailand are closed for holidays. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.5 percent. Benchmark indexes open for trading elsewhere in Asia gained.

U.S. stocks rose on May 2, rounding off the market's first three-week advance since October, after a Labor Department report showed payrolls shrank by 20,000 workers in April, less than the 75,000 forecast by economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

A measure of six metals traded on the London Metal Exchange, including copper and nickel, gained 2 percent, with copper jumping 2.3 percent. Crude oil for June delivery surged 3.4 percent to $116.32 a barrel in New York, the biggest advance in a month.

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