Japanese stocks rose, pushing up the Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average the most in almost two months, after better-than-estimated U.S. economic data improved the earnings outlook for exporters.
Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), which gets 28 percent of its sales in the U.S. and Canada, rose 1.7 percent after demand for cars boosted orders for U.S. durable goods the most in four months. Sony Corp. (6758), Panasonic Corp. (6752) and other Japanese technology companies gained as shares of Apple Inc. dropped in after-hours trading following Steve Jobs’ resignation as the firm’s chief executive officer.
The Nikkei 225 advanced 1.5 percent to 8,772.36 at the 3 p.m. trading close in Tokyo, its biggest increase since June 29. The broader Topix index gained 1.3 percent to 751.82, with more than two stocks rising for each that fell.
“The U.S. economy weakened toward spring as people talked about a soft patch, but we’ve seen good data over the past month or so,” said Koichi Kurose, chief economist in Tokyo at Resona Bank Ltd. “There’s no need to be too pessimistic.”
The Topix has lost about 11 percent this month amid concern U.S. growth is sputtering and Europe’s debt crisis will damage the banking system, damping demand in two of Japan’s biggest export markets. The decline has cut the price of shares on the index to 0.88 times book value, the lowest since March 2009.
The U.S. report on goods meant to last at least three years contrasted with data this month on jobless claims, consumer confidence and manufacturing that spurred concern the U.S. is poised for a recession.
“The mood has lifted because U.S. economic reports released yesterday weren’t as bad as expected and the foreign- exchange market has stabilized,” said Mitsushige Akino, who oversees about $600 million in Tokyo at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is scheduled to speak at a meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Aug. 26, where he is expected to signal new stimulus measures. Bernanke triggered a 28 percent rally in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index last year at the same conference when he hinted the Fed would buy more bonds to prop up the economy.
Exporters to the U.S. advanced after the durable orders report and the yen fell 0.4 percent against the dollar yesterday. Toyota rose 1.7 percent to 2,764 yen. Nissan Motor Co., which has lost 18 percent this month, climbed 7 percent to 673 yen.
The yen traded at 77.12 per dollar today compared with 76.98 in New York yesterday. A weaker yen helps exporters because it boosts the value of overseas income.
Nasdaq-100 Index futures declined after Jobs’ resignation was announced. Futures on the index, which gets 66 percent of its value from computer-related companies such as Apple, fell 0.8 percent to 2,122.75. S&P 500 Index futures pared their loss to 0.2 percent from 0.6 percent. Apple shares dropped 5.1 percent to $357.10.
Japanese technology companies rose. Sony gained 2.1 percent to 1,581 yen. Panasonic, an electronics maker which yesterday dropped to its lowest level since 1980, climbed 3.8 percent to 792 yen.
Nippon Electric Glass Co. rose 6.1 percent to 751 yen. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. boosted its investment rating on the glassmaker to “buy” from “neutral,” citing an increase in its market share and improved profit performance.
Hitachi Chemical Co. climbed 4.4 percent to 1,287 yen after the maker of chemical products said it will establish a subsidiary in India.
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