Tokyo’s Nikkei closes at six-year high

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JapanBrokerage

REUTERS

A man looks at his watch as he passes an electronic board displaying a graph of currency rates outside a brokerage in Tokyo.

Tokyo - Tokyo stocks gained 0.07 percent to close at a six-year high Friday with investor sentiment underpinned by the US Federal Reserve's decision to start reducing its stimulus programme.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged up 11.20 points to 15,870.42, the best finish since December 2007.

However, the Topix index of all first-section shares slipped 0.11 percent, or 1.43 points, to 1,261.64.

The Topix index pared a three-day advance, as foodmakers and oil companies led losses.

The Bank of Japan kept monetary policy unchanged.

McDonald’s Holdings Co. Japan Ltd. slid 1.4 percent after the fast-food chain cut its profit forecast.

Japan Tobacco Inc. dropped the most on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average after New York City extended a smoking ban to electronic cigarettes.

A Topix gauge tracking oil and coal producers sank 1 percent after advancing 1.7 percent yesterday.

Nissan Motor Co. slumped 2.4 percent after Nomura Holdings Inc. said the carmaker’s costs may be higher than expected.

The Topix slipped 0.1 percent to 1,261.64 at the close in Tokyo, with about two shares falling for each that rose.

The measure gained 3.3 percent in the previous three days and 1.8 percent for the week.

The Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent today to 15,870.42.

The yen weakened 0.3 percent to 104.51 per dollar, a five-year low.

All 35 economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the BOJ to maintain its policy.

The BOJ decision “is not adding to what we already know and hence is a little disappointing because the market always wants more,” said Andrew Sullivan, a Hong Kong-based director of sales trading at Kim Eng Securities.

“It could be that they’re keeping their powder dry ahead of tax changes that come into force next month but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Japan’s tax on share gains is set to double to 20 percent on January 1.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s board maintained its pledge to expand the monetary base by an annual 60 trillion to 70 trillion yen ($670 billion) today after a two-day policy meeting in Tokyo.

Electronic Cigarettes

The Topix Foods Index dropped 1 percent for the biggest decline among the broader gauge’s industry groups.

McDonald’s dropped 1.4 percent to 2,733 yen, the most since October 8, after announcing store closures and cutting its full-year profit forecast by more than half.

Japan Tobacco declined 3.2 percent to 3,365 yen, the most since August.

The New York City Council approved adding electronic cigarettes to a ban on smoking in offices, restaurants, bars and parks.

“Electronic cigarettes are one of Japan Tobacco’s mid-to- long term growth categories,” said Satoshi Fujiwara, an analyst at Nomura. If the products come “under the same regulations as normal tobacco, it’ll be a headwind for the tobacco industry.”

The Topix Oil & Coal Index declined 1 percent today, paring its 1.8 percent gains over the previous three days.

West Texas Intermediate oil fell from a two-month high, with the contract for February delivery sliding as much as 39 cents to $98.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Nissan Slides

Nissan lost 2.4 percent to 871 yen. Costs have probably risen for the automaker because of new plants in Mexico, Brazil, Thailand and Russia, Nomura analyst Masataka Kunugimoto, who has a neutral rating on the stock, wrote in a report yesterday.

The benefits from a weak yen have also declined due to falling exports and increased procurement in foreign currencies, he wrote.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.2 percent today.

The gauge lost 0.1 percent yesterday as investors weighed economic data that included jobless claims and home sales.

That followed a 1.7 percent advance on December18 after the Federal Reserve decided to reduce stimulus.

Data from the U.S. Labor Department showed applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week to an almost nine-month high of 379,000. A separate report showed previously owned home sales declined for the third consecutive month in November to the lowest level of the year.

Fujitsu Advances

Among stocks that rose, Fujitsu Ltd. jumped 4.1 percent to 530 yen, the most on the Nikkei 225. The company is looking for partners for its chip plant in Mie prefecture, President Masami Yamamoto told reporters yesterday.

The Topix rose 47 percent this year, the most among 24 major developed markets tracked by Bloomberg, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the BOJ took steps to end 15 years of deflation. The gauge traded at 1.28 times book value today, compared with 2.61 for the S&P 500 and 1.78 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index yesterday. - Bloomberg News and Sapa-AFP


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