Asian stocks rose, with the regional index headed for its longest stretch of weekly gains since September, as Japanese equities climbed amid a weaker yen. Emerging-market currencies from Malaysia to Thailand strengthened versus the dollar as oil climbed a second day.
Stepping up verbal intervention may be the Reserve Bank of Australia’s only option to curb the Aussie as strengthening economic data and a neutral policy stance drive a rebound in the currency this year.
Australia’s dollar climbed to the strongest in more than a week after data today showed the January trade surplus widened to the most in 2 1/2 years and retail sales rose three times faster than economists forecast.
Investors are the most bearish on Australian stocks since 2007 after last month’s rally pushed up valuations by the most since April and the central bank signaled a reluctance to add stimulus to the economy.
The U.S. economy will grow this year at its fastest pace since 2005, helping reduce the annual average unemployment rate for a fourth straight year even as market borrowing costs rise, the Obama administration predicted.
BHP Billiton Ltd. offers a dividend return twice as high as Australia’s one-year bond yield, underpinning the strongest rally in stocks in seven months as the nation’s sovereign debt slumps to the world’s biggest loss.