Nikkei rebounds on Wall St. rally

Stocks turned higher Friday, supported by a sharp Wall Street rally and a weaker yen.

The Nikkei 225 average gained 68.17 points to close at 17,674.39. On Thursday, the key market gauge lost 189.51 points.

The Topix finished 1.49 points higher at 1,415.07 after falling 16.34 points Thursday.

Stocks opened sharply higher after the Dow Jones industrial average gained over 200 points, or more than 1 percent, on Thursday on a rebound in crude oil prices and brisk earnings reports from U.S. companies.

The yen’s depreciation against the dollar in early morning trading also encouraged investors to buy stocks in Tokyo, brokers said.

After pushing up the Nikkei average by more than 200 points at one point, however, stocks gradually lost their earlier gains as the yen advanced toward the end of the morning session.

Stocks maintained their firmness for the rest of the day, but active purchases were held in check ahead of the weekend, brokers said.

“It was also difficult for investors to buy up stocks before the release of GDP data in the United States,” said Hiroaki Hiwada, senior strategist in the investment research division of Toyo Securities Co.

An advanced reading for U.S. gross domestic product for October-December was due out later Friday.

Some brokers saw Japan’s weaker than expected economic data, released just before the opening bell, as a negative factor dragging down the stock market.

The data include industrial production in December, which rose 1.0 percent from the previous month but fell short of the median forecast of a 1.2 percent rise in a Jiji Press survey.

“Stocks will continue to be easily affected by key economic data and earnings reports next week,” Hiwada said.

But an official at a securities firm said Japanese earnings reports have been “mostly favorable” so far.

The Nikkei is likely to test 18,000 in February amid high expectations for a further rise in stocks, an official at another securities firm said.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,177 to 561 in the first section, while 125 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 2.673 billion shares from 2.413 billion Thursday.

Fishery product maker Nippon Suisan Kaisha, electronics maker Toshiba and tire-maker Bridgestone were buoyant, as were Tokyo Electric Power and Tohoku Electric Power.

The yen’s weakening helped lift chipmaking equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron.

CyberAgent shot up 15.49 percent a day after the Internet service firm delivered a better than expected operating profit for October-December.

Other major winners included daily goods manufacturer Kao, drugmaker Takeda and mobile phone carriers KDDI and NTT Docomo.

By contrast, Softbank, a heavily weighted Nikkei component, lost 3.37 percent after its Chinese affiliate Alibaba plunged in New York trading Thursday, brokers said.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average climbed 60 points to end at 17,670.

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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