Roundup: Japan’s Nikkei closes at 2-month high on solid earnings

TOKYO, Aug. 5– Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock index finished close to a two-month high on Friday as robust corporate earnings lifted investor sentiment. “Japanese stocks were buoyed by the release Thursday of stronger-than-expected earnings from domestic companies, helping the Nikkei to end above the 28,000 line after a few recent unsuccessful attempts,”…

TOKYO, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock index finished close to a two-month high on Friday as robust corporate earnings lifted investor sentiment.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 243.67 points, or 0.87 percent, from Thursday to close the day at 28,175.87, marking its highest closing level since June 9.

The broader Topix index, meanwhile, added 16.44 points, or 0.85 percent, to finish at 1,947.17.

Dealers here said the Nikkei closed above the psychologically important 28,000 line for the first time in almost two months, driven by solid earnings reports released a day earlier.

“Japanese stocks were buoyed by the release Thursday of stronger-than-expected earnings from domestic companies, helping the Nikkei to end above the 28,000 line after a few recent unsuccessful attempts,” Chihiro Ota at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. was quoted as saying.

Sentiment was also buoyed by a drop in crude oil prices, which lifted hopes for lower raw material costs, along with a rise in U.S. stock futures, strategists here also said.

“Investor sentiment improved on expectations of lower raw material costs for Japanese firms,” Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., was quoted as saying.

Strategists here also said that investors were keenly eyeing key U.S. jobs data due out later in the day for clues as to the future direction of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary policy, amid continued concerns over the health of the U.S. economy.

By the close of play, iron and steel, food, and metal product-linked issues comprised those that gained the most, and issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,359 to 418 on the Prime Market, while 61 ended the day unchanged.

Technology issues followed their U.S. peers higher overnight, with Screen Holdings climbing 2.6 percent, while Tokyo Electron gained 2.8 percent. Advantest, meanwhile, leapt 3.1 percent by the close.

Nikkei heavyweight Fast Retailing, owner of the Uniqlo clothing store chain, helped lift the broader market, rising 1.3 percent.

Kikkoman Corp. and Nippon Steel surged 9.2 percent and 8.3 percent respectively, and were among the Nikkei’s top performers after reporting solid earnings and profits that beat market expectations.

Konami Group Corp. weighed on the market, however, and was the Nikkei’s biggest loser, dropping 3.9 percent, after reporting disappointing profits.

On the Prime Market on Friday, 1,212.46 million shares changed hands, dropping from Thursday’s volume of 1,295.40 million shares.

The turnover on the final trading day of the year came to 2,871.66 billion yen (21.55 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem.

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