Asian Stocks Edge Higher as Health-Care Offsets Falling Crude

Asian stocks rose for the first time in three days as gains in health-care and consumer-staples shares offset declines in energy producers and Japan’s Topix gauge.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1 percent to 139.11 as 4:04 p.m. in Hong Kong. Health-care and consumer staples gauges both increased 1.2 percent, while a measure of energy equities fell 0.8 percent after an overnight drop in crude. More share declined than advanced. Investors are waiting for Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s speech later this week at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, following hawkish comments from Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer and New York Fed President William Dudley.

Asian stocks have climbed 23 percent from a February low as lackluster data from the world’s biggest economies fueled speculation central banks will continue to support them with stimulus and loose monetary policy. The rally has faltered in the last week and a half as the odds the of a U.S. interest-rate increase before year-end rose to 51 percent from 42 percent on Aug. 12.

“We’ll have to wait for Yellen’s comments for some clarity,” said Chris Green, the Auckland-based director of economics and strategy at First NZ Capital Group Ltd. “Despite some signs of improvements in the U.S. economy, particularly in the labor market, a rate hike is probably a 2017 story.”

Regional Gauges

Japan’s Topix index lost 0.5 percent as a strengthening yen weighed on exporters. Share trading volume was 21 percent less than the 30-day average. The gauge has retreated 16 percent this year, the second-worst performance among developed markets.

Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite Index fell 1 percent, leading losses among Asia’s major markets. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index declined 0.6 percent, the FTSE Malaysia KLCI index dropped 0.5 percent, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.1 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 0.2 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gauge added 0.4 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.7 percent and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 0.1 percent to a record.

Inpex Corp. fell 2.2 percent in Tokyo, pacing declines among energy producers as crude futures retreated. PT XL Axiata plunged 9.9 percent in Jakarta after the Indonesia phone company reported lower quarterly revenue. Korean Air Lines Co. slumped 7.4 percent as unit Hanjin Shipping Co. said it plans to submit another restructuring plan to creditors this week. Hanjin Shipping jumped 9.9 percent.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index rose 0.1 percent. The U.S. equity benchmark index lost 0.1 percent on Monday as declines in commodity shares offset a rally in drugmakers. Advances that have brought equities to a series of all-time highs since early July lost some momentum last week as investors mulled extended valuations, skepticism over a recovery in corporate profits and mixed signals from policy makers over the timing for higher rates.

West Texas Intermediate crude declined 0.1 percent on Tuesday after tumbling 3 percent on Monday. Oil held its biggest loss in three weeks on concern that increased Iraqi exports will compound a global oversupply of crude.