June 4, 2020 / 3:40 AM / a month ago

Tokyo shares lose steam but near 3-month high on rebound hopes, weaker yen

SYDNEY, June 4 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks drifted near their more than three-month highs on Thursday on signs of an economic rebound from a coronavirus-led slump and a weakening yen, with the rally losing steam as investors locked in profits.

The benchmark Nikkei average gained a marginally 0.08% to 22,631.01 by the midday break, after touching its highest intraday level since Feb. 25 and then seesawed between gains and losses in morning trade.

On Wednesday, data showed that U.S. private payrolls fell less than expected in May, suggesting layoffs were abating as businesses reopen, which helped propel all the three major indexes on Wall Street.

In the currency market, the safe-haven yen weakened, with the dollar/yen hitting a fresh two-month high of 109.04 yen early Thursday and the euro/yen touching a 4-1/2-month high of 122.625 yen overnight.

As a soft yen boosts Japanese manufacturers’ profits made abroad when repatriated, shares of bluechip exporters were in need. Toyota Motor rose 1.3%, Sony Corp added 1.1% and Murata Manufacturing gained 1.3%.

The broader Topix eased just 0.01% to 1,598.86 by the recess, after erasing its early gains, with three-fifth of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange trading lower.

Financial stocks notched higher, with insurance and banking among the top-performing sectors on the main bourse. Tokio Marine Holdings advanced 2.1% and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) climbed 1.5%.

The index of Mothers start-up shares dropped 1.2%, after marking its 1-1/2-year peak earlier this week.

Elsewhere, Leopalace21 dived 11.7% as the apartment development and leasing company cut earnings estimates for the year that ended in March due to special losses. The struggling company has said it will announce a full earnings report on Friday. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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