Nikkei rebounds past 17,000 line

Stocks staged a sharp rally Thursday, aided by a pause in the yen’s appreciation against the dollar and other currencies.

The Nikkei 225 average rose 312.74 points, or 1.86 percent, to finish at 17,108.70. On Wednesday, the key market gauge gave up 291.75 points.

The Topix ended up 18.62 points, or 1.37 percent, at 1,376.60 after losing 16.71 points Wednesday.

Stocks attracted buying from the outset despite a fall in U.S. equities overnight on weaker than expected U.S retail sales data.

The dollar’s rise above ¥117.50, after dropping to around ¥117 in Tokyo late Wednesday, brightened investor sentiment, brokers said. In addition, a rebound in crude oil prices in New York overnight led to stock buying here.

Brokers also said investors stepped up buybacks of undervalued stocks in the wake of the recent market sell-off that had stripped the Nikkei of more than 400 points.

In the afternoon, stocks accelerated their upswing, with the benchmark price indicator gaining nearly 350 points at one point.

The buybacks were prompted by the market’s higher opening despite the Dow Jones Industrial average’s decline for the fourth straight session on the fairly disappointing 0.9 percent drop in U.S. retail sales last month, said Toshikazu Horiuchi of Iwai Cosmo Securities Co.’s investment research department.

A major domestic brokerage firm official said that if Wall Street rebounds Thursday, Tokyo stocks may gain further momentum.

But the official also noted that it is still necessary to closely watch whether crude oil prices have hit bottom and that concerns have emerged over drops in copper, aluminum and nickel prices following the World Bank’s downward revisions in its global growth estimates.

“It’s too early to think a full-fledged rally has begun,” Horiuchi said.

In the absence of powerful domestic buying incentives, “the market is expected to consolidate its bottom ahead of key events in Europe next week,” he said.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,513 to 265 in the first section, while 82 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 2.506 billion shares from Wednesday’s 2.260 billion.

Rubber, construction and energy sectors enjoyed hefty gains along with the paper and pulp segement.

In particular, Bridgestone surged 6.72 percent after Credit Suisse raised its target price for the tire company, and resources developer Inpex scaled 2.90 percent.

The weaker yen lifted automakers Toyota and Honda, construction machinery firm Komatsu and electronics giant Sony.

Mobile phone carrier SoftBank and Uniqlo clothing store operator Fast Retailing, both heavily weighted components of the Nikkei average, were also among major winners.

By contrast, Sumitomo Metal Mining and other nonferrous metal producers and steel mill JFE Holdings lost ground.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average jumped 400 points to close at 17,160.

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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