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Japan’s Shares Rise as Utilities Rebound, SoftBank Climbs

Japan’s Topix index rose a second day, trimming losses from the biggest weekly slide since the rally started in November, as power producers rebounded and insurers climbed on higher bond yields.

The Topix utilities gauge rose 8.3 percent, advancing the most among the broader index’s 33 industry groups after leading declines yesterday. Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Co. gained 1.9 percent as rising yields improved prospects for investment returns. SoftBank Corp. added 2.1 percent after a person familiar with the situation said its Sprint Nextel Corp. acquisition will probably pass a U.S national-security review.

The Topix gained 0.9 percent to 1,178.87 at the close of trading in Tokyo. The gauge rebounded for a second day after sliding almost 10 percent in the previous three days, the first significant setback in a nine-month rally that’s lifted Japan’s broadest equities gauge 61 percent.

“The market bottom is getting stronger,” said Masaru Hamasaki, a strategist at Tokyo-based Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., which oversees the equivalent of $100 billion. “A bigger variety of investors, such as individuals, are buying on dips. The market hasn’t priced in the full effects of the potential recovery in the economy.”

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.1 percent to 14,326.46. The gauge lagged behind the Topix as Fast Retailing Co. and Fanuc Corp., which together account for 15 percent of the benchmark, declined. A measure of the Nikkei’s volatility was about 60 percent above the average for the past year after retreating a fourth day from its highest since March 2011.

Futures on the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.8 percent to 14,250.

U.S. Confidence

Contracts on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.2 percent. The gauge rose 0.6 percent yesterday, extending its advance this month to 3.9 percent, after U.S. consumer confidence climbed to the highest since 2008 and home values jumped the most in seven years.

The Topix’s Electric Power & Gas index advanced the most in more than a month today, led by Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co., which each gained more than 15 percent.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the striken Fukushima nuclear power plant, added 8.7 percent after sliding 20 percent in the previous five trading sessions. Kyodo News yesterday reported a parliamentary committee approved a bill allowing victims of the Fukushima disaster to seek compensation beyond a three-year claims limit.

Insurers And Yields

Insurers were the second-biggest gainers among Topix industry groups after the yield on Japan’s 10-year government bonds jumped 4 1/2 basis points to 0.95 percent. Government bonds acount for more than 40 percent of assets held by Japan’s insurers, according to the latest figures from the Life Insurance Association of Japan.

Dai-ichi Life added 1.9 percent to 145,500 yen. T&D Holdings Inc. increased 3.6 percent to 1,337 yen. NKSJ Holdings Inc. jumped 7.7 percent to 2,502 yen. NKSJ also rose after an executive said the insurer will consider selling cross-held shares worth about $3.6 billion.

SoftBank, Japan’s third-largest wireless carrier, added 2.1 percent to 5,320 yen. The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment is close to passing a national security review on SoftBank’s $20.1 billion takeover of Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the information hasn’t been announced.

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