Asian Stocks Gain Before U.S. Housing, Durable Goods Data

Asian stocks rose ahead of reports on U.S. housing and durable goods this week that are expected to show the world’s biggest economy is improving, overshadowing concern about Europe’s debt crisis.

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the world’s No. 1 mobile-phone maker by sales, added 0.9 percent in Seoul. Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-largest oil producer, climbed 2.2 percent as crude traded near a three-month high. Sharp Corp. slid 1.7 percent after Japan’s Rating and Investment Information downgraded the credit rating for the nation’s biggest maker of liquid-crystal displays,

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) added 0.2 percent to 120.91 as of 9:40 a.m. in Tokyo, before markets in Hong Kong and China open. The gauge advanced in the past three weeks on expectations China will ease monetary policy and amid signs the U.S. economyis strengthening.   080812top_thumb Asian Stocks Gain Before U.S. Housing, Durable Goods Data

Reports in the U.S. this week will show that combined purchases of new and existing houses increased to a 4.89 million annual rate in July from a 4.72 million pace in June, according to the median forecasts in surveys of economists before releases from the National Association of Realtors tomorrow and the Commerce Department the next day. Bookings for long-lasting goods may have climbed the most this year, a release from the Commerce Department will show Aug. 24, according to economist estimates.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average was little changed, while South Korea’s Kospi Index rose 0.4 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.1 percent.