Japanese Stocks Advance as Yen Eases, Apple Posts Record Profit

Japanese stocks advanced, sending the Topix Index up for a seventh day, as the yen weakened and technology companies rose after Apple Inc. reported record sales and profit.

Sony Corp., Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, gained 4.8 percent. Toshiba Corp., a supplier of chips for Apple’s iPad, rose 1.8 percent. Toyota Motor Corp. climbed 3 percent after a report that Nippon Steel Corp. agreed to cut material prices for Japan’s biggest carmaker.

The Topix, the country’s broadest equity gauge, climbed 1.3 percent to 767.40 at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo, its longest winning streak since July 6. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.1 percent to 8,883.69, its highest since Oct. 31.

“The yen is weakening, boosting earnings for exporters and fueling confidence in the Japanese stock market,” said Naoki Fujiwara, who helps oversee $6 billion at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Investors are more likely to look at the bright side of the global economy and European debt issues.”

The Topix tumbled 19 percent last year amid concern U.S. growth was slowing and Europe’s debt crisis would damage the banking system. The decline cut the price of shares on the index to 0.9 times book value. That compares with 2.1 times for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in the U.S. and 1.4 times for the Europe Stoxx 600 Index.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.3 percent today after holiday purchases of the new iPhone model helped Apple avoid the consumer spending slump that has hurt rivals.

Tech Stocks Advance

Toshiba rose 1.8 percent to 344 yen. Murata Manufacturing Co., an electronic parts maker that supplies capacitors for the iPhone, gained 2.7 percent to 4,260 yen. The stock also got a boost after Credit Suisse Group AG raised its target price to 4,150 yen from 4,000 yen.

Yesterday the S&P 500 slid 0.1 percent in New York, ending a five-day advance, after European finance ministers pushed bondholders to provide greater debt relief for Greece, spurring concern the nation may fail to make a March 20 bond payment deadline. Global stocks also fell as the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for world economic growth.

“Investors can’t be optimistic on the Greek debt relief talks until they are finalized, but extreme worries about them are easing,” said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager in Tokyo at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “The yen is weakening, fueling expectations Japanese exporters’ earnings will turn up over the next fiscal year.”

Exporters Climb

Exporters gained after the dollar rose, reaching the highest level this year against the yen, which fell against all of its 16 major counterparts.

Sony jumped 4.8 percent to 1,454 yen. Canon Inc., a Japanese camera maker that gets 80 percent of its revenue overseas, added 2.9 percent to 3,510 yen.

The Japanese currency fell to as low as 77.98 against the dollar today in Tokyo, the lowest since Dec. 29. Against the euro, the yen weakened to 101.56 from 100.20 at the close of trading yesterday in Tokyo. A weaker yen boosts overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated.

Carmakers gained after the Nikkei newspaper reported Nippon Steel would cut prices for Toyota by 4 percent. The agreement represents a reduction of 5,000 yen a ton for the six months ending March 31 from the first-half ended September, the Nikkei reported, without citing anyone.

Toyota, Honda

Toyota advanced 3 percent to 2,877 yen. Asia’s biggest carmaker also got a boost after raising its global sales forecast because of Japanese government incentives on fuel-efficient vehicles and demand for its new gas-electric Prius compact. Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest carmaker by revenue, increased 3.8 percent to 2,773 yen.

Kyoei Tanker Co., a shipping line that gets more than 90 percent of revenue from the Middle East, led gains among shipping lines as rates rose following threats by Iran to disrupt shipments.

Kyoei Tanker surged by its daily limit of 50 yen, or 30 percent, to 215 yen, extending yesterday’s 28 percent advance. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., operator of the world’s largest merchant fleet, jumped 7.6 percent to 298 yen. Shipping lines gained the most among the 33 Topix industry groups today.

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