TOKYO, March 20 (Xinhua) — The Nikkei stock index added 0.43 percent Friday and in doing so hit a fresh 15-year high as all information from the U.S. Federal Reserve had been digested by the market, which itself is being underpinned by the central bank here and the Government Pension Investment Fund, while wage increases at big firms here have helped brightened the outlook for the economy.
The Nikkei 225 index added 83.66 points to close the week at 19, 560.22, marking its highest close since April 2000, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 4.70 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 1,580.51.
Traders here said that as investors had digested the news from the Fed about its intentions not to hike its interest rate earlier than expected and with both the BOJ and the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the largest of its kind in the world also underpinning the market, early losses in trade were pared later on hopes for both the domestic and global economies.
Wage negotiations here recently, leading to a number of bellwether firms like Nissan, Panasonic and Toyota increasing regular pay by a significant amount per month, boded well for the outlook of the economy here, as the government is keen to raise consumer and household sentiment, both of which took a battering in the weeks and months following the first instalment of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s unpopular sales tax hike last April.
This all being well and good, with some investors even seem to be snapping up issues on dips, some traders said that following recent central bank statements, moves in crude oil, salary increases and so on, the market was now beginning to run out of fresh incentives to buy.
“Markets are now searching for the next viable trading catalyst, “said Eiji Kinouchi, chief technical analyst at Daiwa Institute of Research, adding that China’s manufacturing PMI data for March due for release early next week could be the catalysts investors have been waiting for.
Official statistics show the reading came in at 50.7 in February, above the key 50 boom-or-bust line for the first time in three months, with Kinouchi noting that”China PMI levels in excess of 50 are usually associated with bullish Japan stock market moves.
Nintendo, who has largely been in the spotlight recently for its tie-up with DeNa and plans to produce games for smartphones, slumped 6.6 percent, while DeNA lost 0.4 percent, with the correction coming following the pair’s recent surge over the past few days since announcing their new venture.
Yahoo Japan gained some serious ground Friday, jumping 6.3 percent to 510 yen after it said it would double its dividend to 8. 86 yen per share compared with a year earlier, and has dropped the 20 percent payout ratio guideline the firm had previously used as a guideline.
E-Commerce player Rakuten jumped 3.6 percent, on news that it plans to acquire shares in OverDrive, an e-book distribution service for libraries based in the U.S. for about 410 million U.S. dollars.
Nikkei heavyweights ended mixed, with Uniqlo operator Fast retailing gaining 3 percent to 46,815 yen, but industrial robotics maker Fanuc retreated 1.6 percent to 27,340 yen, to mark its first negative close in four days.
But the last trading day of the week boded well for shipping firms, with Nippon Yusen rising 1.1 percent to close at 386 yen, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. added 1.4 percent to finish the week at 362 yen.
Trading volume on Friday dropped to 2.13 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange’s First Section, down from Thursday’s volume of 2. 26 billion shares, with advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 1,109 to 612.