Japanese stocks rose, with the Topix index closing at its highest level since November 2007, after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed officials were split on the timing for raising U.S. interest rates.
Nissan Motor Co. surged 4.6 percent after SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. raised its rating on the auto manufacturer. Japan Tobacco Inc., which counts Russia as one of its biggest markets, added 3.1 percent after the ruble strengthened to the highest against the dollar this year. Fujitec Co. jumped 3.5 percent after the elevator maker said it bought back 6.9 percent of its own stock. Hulic Co. dropped 2 percent as the real-estate leasing company said it will sell shares.
The Topix climbed 0.4 percent to 1,594.19 at the close in Tokyo, rising a third day. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.8 percent to 19,937.72, extending a 15-year high.
Given the expectations for the Fed to raise interest rates this year, “the trend for Japanese and European stocks to outperform the U.S. will continue,” Mitsushige Akino, an executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo said by phone. “The Nikkei 225 will reach 20,000 soon.”
Fed minutes showed policy makers were divided on whether to raise rates in June, later in the year or in 2016. The meeting was held before a weaker-than-expected payroll report last week.
The dollar rallied after the minutes were released, erasing gains in the yen which came after the Bank of Japan yesterday maintained its record stimulus. The yen traded down 0.1 percent at 120.26 per dollar today.
Japan Tobacco added 3.1 percent after the ruble advanced to 53.3 per dollar yesterday, the strongest this year. Asia’s largest listed cigarette maker counts Russia as its biggest overseas market and blamed the ruble’s weakness when it lowered earnings forecasts in February.
Nissan Motor soared 4.6 percent after SMBC Nikko Securities raised the stock to outperform from neutral, citing growing sales and profit margins, as well as efforts to control costs and revitalize its mix of car models. The brokerage increased its 12-month price target by 15 percent to 1,500 yen.
Fujitec jumped 3.5 percent after saying it purchased 7.6 billion yen of its own shares. The stock fell 5 percent this year while the Topix added 13 percent. The company last initiated a buyback in February for 6.9 billion yen.
Hulic dropped 2 percent after saying it will raise as much as 82.3 billion yen in a public share sale to repay debt as well as acquire and refurbish property.
E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 0.1 percent after the underlying gauge added 0.3 percent on Wednesday in New York.