Nikkei adds 1.05 percent to 3-week high as ECB stimulus program lifts mood

TOKYO, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) — The Nikkei stock index added 1.05 percent Friday to end the week at a three-week closing high, as the market rallied following the European Central Bank (ECB) announcing it would unleash a bigger-than-expected stimulus program to help underpin the eurozone’s economy and combat deflation.

The Nikkei 225 gained 82.73 points to end at 17,511.75, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares added 0.99 percent, or 13.79 points, to finish the week at 1,403.22.

The ECB announced Thursday a fresh bond-buying program that economists have described as “aggressive” and in doing so have upped the ante on political leaders in Europe to do more to enhance their own economies in the troubled eurozone.

The ECB said it would flood the market with over 1 trillion euros (about 1.16 trillion U.S. dollars) in freshly-printed money, with the news sending bourses higher across the globe and the euro weaker against its major counterparts.

But ECB President Mario Draghi said the decision by the bank alone would not be enough to rescue the single currency union from its economic doldrums.

“What monetary policy can do is create the basis for growth. But for growth to pick up, you need investment; for investment, you need confidence; and for confidence, you need structural reform,” Draghi was quoted by local media as saying.

Local brokers here said the move by the ECB was cheered by market players, as was reflected by a global rally with stocks rising around the world.

Hitoshi Asaoka, a senior strategist at Mizuho Trust & Banking, was quoted as saying that, “The value of the ECB’s monthly asset- purchase plan was higher than people anticipated,” and that, “The total value of purchases satisfied the market and stocks are naturally rising around the globe.”

Other analysts noted that the move from the ECB might pressure other central banks around the globe to follow suit, which would be a positive for riskier assets, like stocks.

To this end, Genzo Kimura, an economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd., said that, “Finally, ECB President Draghi made a big decision. Aside from the U.S., which will raise rates, various central banks are changing their policies towards immense easing, and that may push other central banks to hold a bias for monetary stimulus. It’s positive for risk assets.”

In currency markets, the euro fell sharply against other major currencies, while the U.S. dollar was changing hands at 118.32 yen, from 118.52 yen logged in New York. A weaker yen gives exports and some tech-related issues an advantage, as their firms’ profit outlooks in overseas markets are augmented when the Japanese currency is weak and their competitiveness boosted. Also profits made overseas are increased on favorable exchange rates when repatriated.

As such, consumer electronics giant Sony climbed 4.85 percent to close at 2,737 yen, while top automaker Toyota accelerated 1.32 percent to finish at 7,685 yen.

Nikkei heavyweight Fast Retailing, owner of the Uniqlo clothing chain, added 0.89 percent to close at 42,645 yen, while mobile carrier SoftBank, another heavily-weighted issue, leapt 4.24 percent to end at 7,355 yen, after announcing it will merge four subsidiaries and continue to extend its investment portfolio having acquired a number of app companies recently.

Fuji Heavy Industries rose 2.7 percent to close the week at 4, 346 yen and servo and motion controller maker, Yaskawa Electric, jumped 5.7 percent to 1,569 yen, following the firm raising its dividend outlook after announcing robust earnings for the nine months through mid-December.

Japan’s largest door-to-door delivery service, Yamato Holdings, closed in negative territory, however, slumping 3.4 percent to 2, 416 yen, after the firm said it will halt its mailing service for fear customers may be using the service in violation of the country’s postal laws.

But it was a bright end to the week for chemical and pharmaceutical company Teijin, who climbed 5 percent to 388 yen, and saw its price target increased by Nomura by 14 percent to 410 yen per share, with the brokerage naming Teijin as one of its top picks in its industry.

Trading volume on Friday rose to 2.08 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange’s First Section, up from Thursday’s volume of 1.97 billion shares, with advancing issues outpacing declining ones by 1,321 to 431.

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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