Tokyo shares gain for third straight session

A pedestrian looks at an electronics stock indicator showing share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on March 12, 2018. Tokyo shares jumped in early trade on March 12 as global investors cheered healthy US jobs data while the falling yen also lifted the Japanese bourse. / AFP PHOTO / Kazuhiro NOGI

Tokyo shares climbed Monday for a third straight session as global investors cheered healthy US jobs data, while the impact of a cronyism scandal dogging Japan’s premier appeared limited.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.65 percent, or 354.83 points, to close at 21,824.03, while the broader Topix index advanced 1.51 percent, or 25.82 points, to 1,741.30.

“The US jobs data boosted market sentiment,” Toshikazu Horiuchi, a broker at IwaiCosmo Securities, told AFP.

Okasan Online Securities also said in a note to clients: “The Tokyo bourse this week is likely to try rebounding. The US jobs data came out ‘just right.'”

The closely watched monthly US payrolls data on Friday revealed moderating wage growth compared with the January report, easing concerns that the Federal Reserve will speed its pace of interest rate hikes.

Global investors also eyed US President Donald Trump’s tariffs plans, which could spark a trade war.

But Washington is promising some exemptions, including for Mexico and Canada, making the tariffs less severe than initially feared.

Still, Trump has exchanged sharp words with European officials over the issue.

The market is also enjoying easing geopolitical tension, with Trump agreeing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May.

“We cannot say there is no concern over issues related to (US metal) trade and the talks between the US and North Korea. But we still believe a rebound is likely,” Okasan Online said.

The market largely ignored a cronyism scandal in Japan as Finance Minister Taro Aso admitted official documents had been altered but said he did not intend to step down.

“Investors are concerned about the scandal but the impact is so far limited as it is unlikely to lead to Abe’s resignation,” broker Horiuchi said.

Abe’s government has faced mounting pressure in recent days over the 2016 sale of state-owned land to one of his supporters at a price well below market value.

The dollar edged down to 106.64 yen, from 106.78 yen in New York Friday but is still up from the 105 yen levels seen last week.

Toyota jumped 2.45 percent to 6,958 yen, while Panasonic rose 2.72 percent to 1,679.5 yen, but Sony lost 1.74 percent to 5,299 yen.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group added 2.10 percent to 732.2 yen and rival Sumitomo Mitsui Financial jumped 2.43 percent to 4,628 yen.

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