September 26, 2018 / 7:32 AM / 8 months ago

Nikkei extends rally to 8th session as U.S. rate hike hopes lift large caps

* Suzuki tumbles after report co reports to ministry about improper emissions testing

* About 160 points are cut by ex-dividend adjustment - market

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei rose for an eighth session in choppy trade on Wednesday as hopes for a U.S. rate hike lifted futures and large-cap stocks such as Fast Retailing and SoftBank, offsetting weakness in high-yielders like automakers trading ex-dividend.

The Nikkei share average gained 0.4 percent to 24,033.79, extending its rally to an eighth session and the highest closing level since Jan. 23.

The next milestone is the 24,129.34 level hit on Jan. 23, a break of which would put the index at its highest since November 1991.

The Nikkei dipped into negative territory in early trade but investors were looking to the U.S. market later in the day, analysts said.

“Expectations for a U.S. rate hike lifted investors’ risk appetite,” said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is seen as all but certain to raise its benchmark Fed funds rate later on Wednesday.

The market has also focused on the outcome of a scheduled summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday in New York.

On Tuesday, the two countries reached a broad understanding over how to promote bilateral trade and may announce specifics on Wednesday, Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as saying after meeting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Analysts say investors are not overly nervous about how the summit will turn out, but they remain cautious.

“Trump has said provocative things to other countries, so you never know. The market seems to be calm now but they haven’t turned risk-on yet,” said Tetsuro Ii, the president of Commons Asset Management.

Trump has made clear he is unhappy with Japan’s $69 billion trade surplus with the United States - nearly two-thirds of it from auto exports - and wants a two-way agreement to address it.

Wednesday’s gainers included index-heavyweights such as Fast Retailing and SoftBank, which rose 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Index-heavy stocks included in the Nikkei rise when Nikkei futures are bought.

Takeda Pharmaceutical surged 1.6 percent after Daiwa Securities raised its stock rating to ‘outperform’ from ‘neutral’ to price in the impact of its acquisition of Shire PLC , saying that despite an increased number of outstanding shares, value per share will be unchanged.

On the other hand, automakers, banks and brokerages, which produce high dividend yields, underperformed as about 160 points were cut from the Nikkei by the ex-dividend price adjustment, market participants said.

Toyota Motor Corp fell 1.3 percent, Nissan Motor Co tumbled 4.1 percent, Mizuho Financial Group declined 2.5 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group shed 2.4 percent and Nomura Holdings slid 1.5 percent.

Suzuki Motor tumbled 4.5 percent after Jiji News said that the company reported to the transport ministry that cases of improper emissions testing were likely to have increased.

The broader Topix was flat at 1,821.67. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa Editing by Eric Meijer)

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