Tokyo stocks climb to 2-week high, resources gain

12:59, February 18, 2010      

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Japan's Nikkei Stock Average surged 2.72 percent on Wednesday echoing overnight gains made on Wall Street and supported by Hong Kong's positive start after the Lunar New Year holiday. Resource-related issues buoyed the market after a rise in commodities prices lifted investor sentiment and spurred buying in shares such as Mitsubishi Corp.

Japan's key benchmark Nikkei rose 272.58 points from Tuesday to 10,306.83, its highest close since Feb. 4 and the biggest daily percentage gain since Dec. 3.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 19.46 points, or 2.2 percent, to 904. 63.

Tokyo shares responded well to Tuesday's sharp gains in European, U.S. and Hong Kong shares, with robust earnings and stronger-than-expected data providing a lift.

Investor jitters were eased over China's monetary tightening policy as Hong Kong equities posted a near 2 percent rise despite China's decision last week to increase bank reserve requirements, to curb excessive lending.

Up until Tuesday when the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong markets were both closed for the holidays, investors have been worried about the impact from China's move to tighten monetary policy, said Masumi Yamamoto, a market analyst at Daiwa Securities Capital Markets Co.

"But seeing that Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose straightforwardly today, relieved investors turned more confident about buying," she said.

With the Shanghai market remaining closed this week for the Lunar New Year holidays, investors sought cues from Hong Kong stocks' reaction to China's announcement on Friday that it would increase bank reserve requirements for the second time this year from Feb. 25. Investors were initially worried that the tightening may hinder the global economic recovery, brokers said.

However, resource-related issues rallied and were among the strongest gainers after oil and other commodities rose on Tuesday on the back of a decline in the dollar.

The U.S. dollar rose to the upper 90-yen range and the euro traded in the 124-yen zone in Tokyo on Wednesday, up from the 89- yen level and 122-yen level, respectively, on Tuesday.

Japan's refiners advanced on Wednesday with Nippon Mining Holdings Inc. adding 1.63 percent to 435 yen and fellow smelter Nippon Oil Corp. rising 1.08 percent to 467 yen.

Among trading houses, Mitsubishi Corp., which gets 39 percent of its sales from commodities, climbed 3.4 percent to 2,279 yen and counterpart Mitsui & Co. Ltd. climbed 4.86 percent to 1,403 yen.

Shares of iron and steel makers surged after metal prices rallied broadly on Tuesday, with nickel prices jumping about 5 percent to a six-month high.

Subsequently, ferronickel maker Pacific Metals Co Ltd. climbed 8 percent to 660 yen, whilst Nippon Steel Corp, Japan's biggest steel maker, rose 4.4 percent to 332 yen.

JFE Holdings Inc., Japan's No. 2 steel maker, gained 5.3 percent to 3,260 yen after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said shares of steelmakers will likely rise even after mills accept higher prices for iron ore.

Meanwhile metal processing and fabricating firm Toho Zinc Co. Ltd. surged 4.05 percent to 411 yen.

Exporters with a presence in Europe, such as electronic and precision parts makers benefited from the stronger euro with Canon Inc., which gets 32 percent of its revenue from Europe, climbing 4. 2 percent and Kyocera Corp. gaining 3.4 percent to 8,200 yen.

Sony Corp. added 2.97 percent whilst Sharp Corp. rose 2.72 percent to close at 1,097 yen at the 3 p.m. bell.

With 1,403 shares rising on Tuesday two notable decliners were Nippon Paper Group Inc. who fell 1.06 percent to 2,320 yen and discount furniture chain operator Nitori Co. Ltd. who shed 1 percent to 6,850 yen after recalling three heater products sold at its stores.

Some 1.8 billion shares changed hands on the Tokyo exchange's First section, up from Tuesday's volume of around 1.4 billion shares.

Advancing shares outnumbered declining ones by almost 8 to 1.

Source: Xinhua
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