Japan Stocks Rise as U.S. Jobs Data Beat Estimates; Nikon Jumps

Japanese stocks rose, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average closing at its highest level in three months, after U.S. joblessness fell and companies from Nikon Corp. to Oki Electric Industry Co. raised profit forecasts.

Sony Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. advanced on optimism rising employment in the U.S. will boost exports. Nikon surged 11 percent after raising its full-year outlook on sales of digital cameras. Oki Electric jumped 14 percent.

“In the second half of last year, talk was all about whether the U.S. will go back into a recession,” said Andrew Pease, Sydney-based chief investment strategist for the Asia-Pacific region at Russell Investment Group, which manages about $150 billion. “Now I think talk will be about what will be the strength of the recovery in the U.S. That’s an important shift in the balance of risk.”

The Nikkei 225 gained 1.1 percent to 8,929.20, its highest close since Oct. 31. Almost three shares rose for each that fell in the benchmark gauge, which in January posted its biggest monthly advance since October, amid signs Europe is containing the debt crisis and the U.S. economy is improving. The broader Topix Index climbed 1.2 percent to 769.85 today.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.3 percent today. The gauge advanced 1.5 percent in New York on Feb. 3, capping a five-week rally, after Labor Department data showed payrolls increased by 243,000 in January, the most since April. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for a rise of 140,000.

Sony, Toyota

Exporters rallied as the unemployment rate in the world’s biggest economy dropped to 8.3 percent, the lowest since February 2009.

Sony, Japan’s biggest consumer-electronics exporter, climbed 4 percent to 1,492 yen. Canon Inc., the world’s top camera maker, gained 1.6 percent to 3,400 yen. Toyota, which gets about 28 percent of sales from North America, rose 3 percent to 2,986 yen.

Shares of Toyota and other Japanese carmakers also rallied after the maker of Prius forecast sales will climb 21 percent this year as production recovers following disruptions caused by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand last year.

Nikon surged 11 percent to 2,064 after the world’s second-largest maker of professional-grade cameras raised its operating profit estimate by 7.5 percent to 72 billion yen ($939 million) for the year ending March 31.

Missed Estimates

Oki Electric surged 14 percent to 80 yen, the biggest advance on the Nikkei 225, after the electronics maker raised its operating profit forecast for the year ended March 31 by 13 percent to 17 billion yen.

Of the 901 companies on the Topix that have reported earnings since Jan. 9, 90 have exceeded analysts’ estimates while 187 have fallen short, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Panasonic Corp., the world’s largest maker of plasma televisions, jumped 6.3 percent to 637 yen, after saying profit in the year beginning April 1 may recover after a record loss. President Fumio Ohtsubo reiterated a pledge to restructure by cutting jobs and shifting output overseas while becoming a leader in solar panels and rechargeable batteries.

The Nikkei 225 Volatility Index rose 3.1 percent to 20.95, indicating traders expect a swing of about 6 percent on the benchmark gauge over the next 30 days.

Tokyo Electron Ltd., a manufacturer of chipmaking gear, had the biggest decline on the Nikkei 225. It slumped 8.2 percent to 4,040 yen after reporting profit declined 47 percent from a year earlier in the nine months ended Dec. 31 due to a slowdown in the global economy and floods in Thailand.

“Earnings have been bad, but that’s expected,” said Yutaka Yoshii, a strategist at Mito Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Overseas markets have been solid so that’s helped restore confidence.”

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