March 12, 2015 / 2:36 AM / 4 years ago

Nikkei rises on futures-related buying

* Foreign investors chase futures market higher - analysts
    * Brother tumbles on M&A news

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
rose on Thursday as investors chased the market higher before
the futures settlement.
    The Nikkei rose 0.8 percent to 18,865.36 points by
midmorning, moving closer to its 15-year high of 18,979.64 hit
last Friday.
    Index-heavy stocks led the gains, with Fanuc Corp 
rising 2.6 percent and SoftBank Corp gaining 1.5
percent. The two companies together contributed a hefty 36
points to the Nikkei.
    Traders were also positioning for Friday's settlement for
Nikkei futures and options contracts expiring in March, analysts
    The closely watched settlement price, known in Japan as the
special quotation, or "SQ", is calculated from the opening
prices of the 225 shares in the Nikkei average on the second
Friday of the month.
    "Foreign derivatives investors are seen chasing the market
higher," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at
Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
    "Those who have long positions in the Nikkei futures are
playing the 'SQ game'. They hope the futures to settle at a
higher price."
    Analysts also said receding geopolitical concerns also
lifted investors' risk appetite.
    Overnight, European shares rebounded, while the
International Monetary Fund has agreed to pump $10 billion into
Ukraine's troubled economy over the next year. 
    "Such geopolitical risks as Ukraine issues were hanging over
investors' heads for a long time, so there is a sense of relief
in the market," said Shigemitsu Tsuruta, chief strategist at
SMBC Friend Securities.
    Thirty-one of the Topix's 33 subsectors were in positive
    Banking shares were higher, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial
Group rising 2.4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial
Group gaining 0.8 percent.
    Exporters were in demand as well. Toyota Motor Corp 
and Honda Motor Co both gained 0.8 percent.
    Bucking the trend, Brother Industries Ltd fell more
than 5 percent after it said it will buy British barcode-printer
maker Domino Printing Sciences Plc for about 1.03
billion pounds in cash ($1.55 billion). 
    The broader Topix added 1.0 percent to 1,541.37 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 1.0 percent to

 (Editing by Kim Coghill)
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