May 16, 2017 / 2:23 AM / 3 years ago

Japan's Nikkei hits 17-mth high on sagging yen, higher Wall Street

TOKYO, May 16 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to a 17-month high on Tuesday, drawing support from a sagging yen and Wall Street hitting record highs overnight.

The Nikkei was up 0.3 percent at 19,925.20, having come off an early high of 19,998.49, its best levels since December 2015.

A broadly weaker yen helped shares in Japan’s export reliant economy, and investors also took heart from the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closing at record highs thanks to rising oil prices and demand for technology stocks.

The Nikkei was still shy of 20,000, lacking enough impetus to overcome steady profit-taking near the threshold.

“The Nikkei is likely to eventually reach 20,000 as participants test the market’s upside. But it will need fresh external factors, like developments in (U.S. president Donald) Trump’s tax reform plans, to stay above that level,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

Asahi Group Holdings rose 3.6 percent after the brewer reported a 17.4 percent gain in its January-March net profit thanks to efforts to generate demand for non-alcoholic beverages.

Shares of Disco Corp gained as much as 2.3 percent to 18,900 yen after semiconductor maker was included in MSCI’s Japan index for the index provider’s semiannual market reclassification.

Other companies MSCI included in its Japan index were Kyushu Railway, which was flat, and chemical product maker Tosoh Corp, which rose 2.1 percent.

MSCI dropped Hokuriku Electric Power, which was little changed, and warehousing and transportation service provider Mitsubishi Logistics, which was down 1.4 percent.

Daikyo Inc slid 7.4 percent after the real estate developer announced that it expects its net profit for the year through March 2018 to decline 14.6 percent to 12 billion yen ($105 million).

Of Tokyo’s 33 subindexes, 24 gained. Among them, oil and coal products rose 1.1 percent after crude prices surged following a joint announcement by Saudi Arabia and Russia to push for an extension of supply cuts through March 2018.

The broader Topix added 0.3 percent to 1,584.30 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 climbed 0.2 percent to 14,148.09. ($1 = 113.5300 yen) (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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