Nikkei rises on corporate earnings in Japan

The Nikkei 225 average scaled a new 15-year closing high on Friday as buying spread to a wide range of issues on the back of solid corporate earnings in Japan.

The Nikkei rose 83.66 points, or 0.43 percent, to 19,560.22, its best finish since April 14, 2000. On Thursday, the key market gauge fell 67.92 points.

The Topix climbed 4.7 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 1,580.51, after falling 6.65 points the previous day.

The Nikkei average opened higher despite Wall Street’s fall overnight Thursday. The benchmark index soon slipped into negative territory, dampened by selling to lock in profits amid a recent sense of market overheating, brokers said.

The Nikkei then stayed around the previous day’s closing level before extending gains as buying spread to small- and medium-cap issues as well as mainstay export-oriented names amid strong hopes for Japan’s economic recovery, brokers said.

The late-session momentum also reflected buying to secure dividends before the end of fiscal 2014 as well as small-lot index futures-led purchases, brokers said.

While rises in stocks that have driven the recent market surge were limited, issues of companies that have announced higher dividends or stock buybacks attracted aggressive buying, brokers said.

“The Nikkei average came under selling pressure when it reached around 19,500 from a sense of achievement. But the supply-demand balance remains solid,” said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan Inc.

“Investors moved to cash in gains when stock prices rose to higher levels, but actively bought on dips when they fell slightly,” said Hiroichi Nishi, assistant general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.’s Investment Research and Investor Services.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,109 to 612 in the TSE’s first section, while 151 issues were unchanged.

Volume decreased to 2.13 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.26 billion.

Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries gained ground on a newspaper report that the two automakers are expected to raise their full-year dividends.

Yahoo Japan jumped 6.25 percent after the Internet portal raised its dividend forecast sharply for the year ending this month, brokers said.

On the other hand, mobile game site operator DeNA was hit by profit-taking after its recent surge, brokers said.

Also on the minus side were robot-maker Fanuc, Tokyo Disney Resort operator Oriental Land and mobile carrier NTT Docomo.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average grew 60 points to close at 19,500.

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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