Asian stocks rose, with the regional gauge heading for a 2 1/2-week high, amid optimism in the strength of the world™s largest economy.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.2 percent to 138.04 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo, before markets opened in Hong Kong and China. Australia™s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.5 percent, on volume 62 percent below the 30-day intraday average, as it resumed trading after a two-day Christmas break. Shares of AirAsia Bhd. may move after one of its planes carrying 162 people went missing.

American equity gauges climbed to records last week and a gauge of volatility slumped as data showed U.S. gross domestic product increased at a 5 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest pace since 2003. Futures on the Standard & Poor™s 500 Index were little changed today.

Japan™s Topix index advanced 0.4 percent. South Korea™s Kospi index fell 0.6 percent. New Zealand™s NZX 50 Index slipped from an all-time high, dropping 0.1 percent.

Data at the weekend showed Chinese industrial company profits fell the most in two years last month, adding to signs of a deepening slowdown in Asia™s largest economy. China is headed for its slowest annual growth since 1990 amid industrial overcapacity, a housing slump and factory-gate deflation.

Source : Bloomberg