Tokyo stocks close higher

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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 - Japanese shares rose, with the Topix index paring its fourth straight monthly drop, as investors weighed corporate earnings and a Bank of Japan decision to keep monetary policy unchanged.

Kyocera Corp. advanced 3.4 percent after the electronics and solar-panel maker’s operating-income outlook beat estimates.

SoftBank Corp. defied a slump in technology-related shares, adding 0.5 percent after the mobile carrier’s Sprint Corp. unit in the US boosted its full-year forecast as fewer subscribers left than analysts projected.

Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan’s biggest shipping line, slumped 2.1 percent after its full-year profit forecast missed estimates.

The Topix gained 0.1 percent to 1,162.44 at the close of trading in Tokyo, trimming its monthly loss to 3.4 percent.

About nine shares fell for every seven that rose.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 0.1 percent today to 14,304.11.

The yen gained 0.1 percent to 102.50 per dollar after weakening the past two days.

Markets in Japan were closed yesterday for a holiday.

“I think most people priced in that there would be no change from the BOJ today,” said Seiichiro Iwamoto, who helps oversee the equivalent of $33 billion at Mizuho Asset Management Co.

“I want more easing. But more than that, policy changes are needed, like a corporate tax cut. Until we see more reforms, it’s hard to make a move and the market isn’t going to have a strong direction.”

 

BOJ Policy

 

Thirty-four of 35 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected the central bank to leave its bond-buying program unchanged.

“The decision was as expected and moves in the market were restrained,” said Masaaki Yamaguchi, equity market strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest brokerage.

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

The US equity measure rose 0.5 percent yesterday as Internet stocks rallied for the first time in five days and results from Merck & Co. to Sprint Corp. topped estimates.

Fed policy makers began a two-day meeting in Washington yesterday.

They will probably announce a fourth consecutive reduction in their monthly bond-buying program, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg.

The Fed is likely to keep its target interest rate for overnight bank lending in a range of zero to 0.25 percent.

Japan’s industrial production rose 0.3 percent in March from February, trade ministry data showed today.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg forecast a 0.5 percent gain.

This follows a 2.3 percent month-on-month decline in February.

 

Earnings Season

 

“The market is moving on individual company news like earnings,” said Takashi Aoki, who helps oversee the equivalent of $37.6 billion at Mizuho Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.

More than 200 Topix members release results this week.

Of those on the gauge that have already posted earnings and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 65 percent beat analyst predictions for sales while 61 percent topped projections for earnings-per-share.

Kyocera gained 3.4 percent to 4,807 yen after forecasting 135 billion yen ($1.3 billion) in operating profit this fiscal year, beating the 131.6 billion yen estimate from a survey of 17 analysts.

Annual profit jumped 34 percent for the year ended March 31, the company said April 28, buoyed by photovoltaic products and devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp., which makes industrial machinery and electronic devices, advanced 3.1 percent to 1,163 yen after its outlook for 175 billion yen in net income beat estimates of 170 billion yen.

 

SoftBank Advances

 

SoftBank, the stock with the third-biggest weighting on the Topix, climbed 0.5 percent to 7,590 yen even as other technology-related shares slumped.

Its US-based Sprint subsidiary raised its forecast for 2014 adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to as much as $6.9 billion from a prior projection of as much as $6.7 billion.

Sprint lost 231,000 branded monthly subscribers in the quarter and 333,000 total.

Analysts had projected 408,000 total monthly customer losses.

Yahoo Japan Corp., which operates an online-portal site, lost 5.5 percent to 444 yen.

Rakuten Inc., which runs an e- commerce market, sank 4.3 percent to 1,322 yen.

Acom Co. and Aiful Corp. tumbled after Finance Minister Taro Aso said the government has no immediate plans to relax regulations on consumer-finance companies.

Acom plunged 11 percent to 348 yen, while Aiful fell 13 percent to 349 yen.

Nippon Yusen slid 2.1 percent to 277 yen after forecasting full-year profit of 35 billion yen.

Analysts had expected 52.8 billion yen. Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., Japan’s second-biggest shipper, dropped 1.7 percent to 341 yen after projecting it will post 54 billion yen in operating profit in the year ending March 2015, compared to analyst predictions for 71.9 billion yen.

The Topix traded at 1.13 times book value today, compared with 2.63 for the S&P 500 and 1.90 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index yesterday.

Volume on the Japanese gauge was about 3.3 percent below the 30-day average today. - Bloomberg News



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