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Tokyo: Stocks close up 1.46%


[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks jumped 1.46 per cent on Thursday, rebounding after two days of losses despite a negative lead from Wall Street, while investors await the release of US jobs data.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange added 277.95 points to finish at 19,312.79, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares gained 1.65 per cent, or 25.18 points, to 1,554.17.

Tokyo fell Wednesday after a disappointing business confidence survey by the Bank of Japan showed firms are increasingly pessimistic about a rebound in the world's number three economy.

But the Nikkei is up more than 10 percent since the start of the year, winning support from a flow of overseas investment and a move by Japan's public pension fund - the world's biggest - to shift more of its bond-heavy portfolio into stocks.

"Japanese stocks are going to remain supported by more pension funds increasing investments into equities - I'm still bullish," Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG Ltd, told Bloomberg News.

Thursday's rise followed a drop on Wall Street after fresh figures showed US construction spending dipped in February, while growth in the manufacturing sector slowed for the fifth straight month in March.

The Dow fell 0.44 per cent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.40 per cent and the Nasdaq was down 0.42 per cent.

A report from payrolls firm ADP showing a slump in business hiring in March also cast a shadow ahead of Friday's closely watched government labour report for the same month.

Investors will be hoping to find out if the world's top economy is strong enough to absorb an interest rate hike, which is expected by the end of the year.

In Tokyo share trading, Toyota jumped 1.71 per cent to close at 8,377.0 yen and Canon gained 3.15 per cent to 4,310.0 yen after Citigroup raised its outlook on the stock, while market heavyweight Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, rose 0.73 per cent to 47,115.0 yen.

Sony was up 3.12 per cent at 3,336.0 yen after saying it is selling half its stake in Olympus Corp to JPMorgan for 71.8 billion yen (US$600 million).

Olympus, best known for its cameras but which is also a major player in the medical equipment market, dropped 4.07 per cent to 4,240.0 yen on the news.

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal fell 1.27 per cent to 294.8 yen on a report that it is planning to cut production this quarter.

In forex markets, the dollar bought 119.59 yen, against 119.76 yen in New York.


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