Tokyo shares end higher after US rallies

TOKYO (AFP): Tokyo stocks surged at the close on Monday, following Wall Street rallies, while a lull in the yen’s appreciation against the dollar also supported the Japanese market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.33 percent, or 352.51 points, to end at 26,906.04, while the broader Topix index advanced 0.96 percent, or 18.51 points, to 1,945.38.

The dollar slipped to 129.06 yen in the early afternoon before recovering to 129.70 yen in the late afternoon in Tokyo. The levels compared with 129.51 yen on Friday in New York.

Global investors were encouraged as US Federal Reserve officials reiterated that the central bank may lift rates at a slower pace as inflation gradually comes down.

“After US gains, investor sentiment further improved and buying went to a broad range of shares,” IwaiCosmo Securities said.

Market players were also monitoring speculation that the Bank of Japan could move towards monetary tightening after Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s term expires in April.

Hopes for Chinese recovery also brightened sentiment, said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management.

“Although most Asia markets are closed for Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, Japanese and Australian stocks are picking up on the better mood from US investors and on expectations of China’s economy returning to some semblance of a pre-pandemic trend,” he said.

Hopes for returning Chinese demand helped lift Nippon Steel, which jumped 2.36 percent to close at 2,690 yen.

Construction equipment maker Komatsu, which also has a major presence in Asian and Chinese markets, rose 1.39 percent to 3,019 yen.

Top automaker and major exporter Toyota gained 0.32 percent to 1,889 yen and Honda rose 0.78 percent to 3,093 yen.

Nissan added 0.86 percent to 434.1 yen after reports said the French government supports plans being discussed by the Japanese carmaker and Renault to rebalance their alliance, including reducing Renault’s 43.7 percent stake in Nissan.

Tech shares also rose. Advantest, which makes semiconductor testing kits, spiked 2.22 percent to 9,650 yen. Industrial robot maker Fanuc rose 1.83 percent to 21,955 yen.

Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing added 2.66 percent to 77,450 yen. Energy developer Inpex rose 0.90 percent to 1,454 yen.