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Shayne Heffernan

Asian developing-nation stocks rose sharply today, sending the MSCI Emerging Markets Index to its highest level in five weeks, as India’s economy improved.

Thai stocks hit a six-week high on Tuesday in their first reaction to a long-awaited court ruling on the assets of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra after a long holiday weekend, but the region in general was mixed. Markets got an early boost from strong manufacturing data in Europe and news American International Group (AIG) was selling its Asian insurance business to Britain's Prudential (PRU.L), which drove both European markets and Wall Street up on Monday.

However, Singapore's index STI closed down 0.07 percent, after climbing to its highest since Feb. 18, weighed down by a 4.4 percent drop in gaming group Genting Singapore (GENS) and a 0.98 percent loss in United Overseas Bank (UOBH). The Thai index .SETI rose 1.6 percent to its highest since Jan. 20 as investors hunted for bargains in big-caps such as PTT (PTT), which jumped 2.7 percent, and Siam Commercial Bank SCB, which gained 3.14 percent.

The MSCI emerging-markets gauge climbed 0.7 percent at 10:22 a.m. in London. The MSCI World Index of 23 developed nations’ stocks advanced 0.2 percent while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. Copper dropped 1.8 percent in London as mining in Chile, the world’s biggest producer, resumed after an earthquake.

India’s government reported data that showed increases in manufacturing and exports, while Mark Mobius, who oversees $34 billion at Templeton Asset Management Ltd., said the nation’s shares may outpace emerging markets.

“India’s macroeconomic fundamentals have significantly improved,” Mobius said in an interview posted on the Web site of Templeton, a unit of San Mateo, California-based Franklin Resources Inc. The investment firm’s biggest holdings are in Brazil, India and China, Mobius said.

India Rally
The MSCI emerging markets index has gained 3.5 percent in the past three days, the biggest rally in three months. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index jumped 2.1 percent, the most among benchmark equity indexes worldwide. Tata Motors Ltd. rose 9.7 percent, the most in six months, after India’s biggest truckmaker said February sales jumped 58 percent. South Korea’s Kospi Index climbed 1.3 percent.

Emerging-market currencies weakened, led by a 0.6 percent retreat in South Africa’s rand against the dollar. The Turkish lira declined 0.3 percent.

Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index fluctuated between gains and losses. PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, led advances in auto shares, gaining 1.8 percent in Paris after saying the year started better than forecast. Luxottica Group SpA slid 4.6 percent in Milan after the maker of eyeglasses posted earnings that missed analysts’ estimates.

Samsung, Nintendo
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.7 percent. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s biggest maker of computer memory chips, and Japan’s Nintendo Co., which manufactures the Wii game console, gained more than 3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.3 percent. The index briefly pared gains after the nation’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate.

U.S. futures fluctuated after the S&P 500 yesterday gained 1 percent, erasing its 2010 loss. More than 460 companies in the benchmark gauge for U.S. equities have reported quarterly earnings since Jan. 11 and about 75 percent have beaten analysts’ estimates, according to Bloomberg data.

Copper for delivery in three months fell $135 to $7,265 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, after gaining as much as 5.6 percent yesterday. Aluminum, nickel and zinc also retreated. Crude oil fell 0.4 percent to $78.41 a barrel in New York trading.

Shayne Heffernan


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