Nikkei rises more 1% on ECB monetary easing

Stocks gained ground on Friday, boosted by purchases after the European Central Bank’s decision to introduce quantitative monetary easing.

The Nikkei 225 average advanced 182.73 points, or 1.05 percent, to end at 17,511.75, adding to the 48.54 points gained Thursday.

The Topix closed 13.79 points, or 0.99 percent, higher at 1,403.22 a day after falling 1.18 points.

The TSE attracted purchases from the outset after the U.S. and major European stock markets enjoyed large gains, inspired by the ECB’s decision to launch a larger than expected bond purchase program at its policy-setting meeting on Thursday.

The Nikkei briefly surged more than 200 points in early trading, but the market’s upside was capped later by profit-taking, brokers said.

In the afternoon, a wait-and-see mood prevailed in the market as investors retreated to the sidelines ahead of the weekend and Sunday’s closely watched general election in Greece, brokers said.

The ECB decided to buy €60 billion per month in government bonds from eurozone countries and other securities for 18 months starting in March.

“It’s good that global financial markets will continue to be underpinned by monetary easing measures in Japan and Europe,” after the U.S. Federal Reserve ended its quantitative easing last year, said Tomoaki Fujii, head of the corporate research division at Takagi Securities Co.

Still, Ryuta Otsuka, strategist at the investment information department of Toyo Securities Co., said: “I think it’s difficult to prop up the European economy only by the ECB’s monetary easing. It would be desirable to increase public spending along with the easing.”

Investors found it difficult to step up purchases of Tokyo stocks Friday amid concerns that the possibility of Greece withdrawing from the eurozone may grow if the leftist opposition party wins the election, brokers said.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,321 to 431 in the first section, while 110 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased slightly to 2.084 billion shares from 1.971 billion Friday.

Europe-related names were buoyant on the back of hopes for an economic recovery in the region following the ECB’s easing. Among them were camera makers Canon and Nikon as well as optical equipment manufacturer Olympus.

Dai-ichi Life Insurance jumped ¥84, or 5.29 percent, to ¥1,672 after Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co. recommended buying shares, setting a price target of ¥2,100, brokers said.

Kobe Steel surged 5 percent thanks to massive buybacks after the recent correction, brokers said.

On the other hand, Oriental Land plunged for the second straight session, apparently due to selling to cash in gains.

Tire maker Bridgestone, drugmakers Takeda and Astellas and daily goods manufacturer Kao were downbeat.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average climbed 150 points to end at 17,510.

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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