Fanuc Pushes Japan’s Nikkei 225 to First Advance in Three Days

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Fanuc Corp. Robot
A Fanuc Corp. robot arm operates on Nissan Motor Co. vehicle parts on the production line of the Nissan Oppama plant in Yokosuka, Japan. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Japanese stocks rose, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average advancing for the first time in three days, as Fanuc Corp. jumped after the robot maker said it will boost shareholder returns.

Fanuc, in which activist investor Daniel Loeb took a stake this year, rose 3.3 percent after saying it will double its dividend. The stock is the second-biggest member on the Nikkei 225, accounting for 5.3 percent of the gauge. Osaka Gas Co. added 3.2 percent after reporting profit that beat its forecast. Tokyo Electron Ltd. tumbled the most since 1982 after the chipmaking equipment supplier said it will cancel its merger with U.S.-based Applied Materials Inc. Komatsu Ltd. slumped 3.1 percent after net income declined.

The Topix index added 0.5 percent to 1,627.43 at the close in Tokyo, with five stocks rising for every four that fell. The Nikkei 225 gained 0.4 percent to 20,058.95.

“Fanuc is clearly the focus,” said David Welch, head of equity sales trading at Reorient Group in Hong Kong. “Some investors are saying if Fanuc can change, there is optimism that other companies will follow suit, as Fanuc used to be one of the least shareholder-friendly companies in Japan.”

About 330 Topix companies report results this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Companies reporting earnings Tuesday include Honda Motor Co., Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., NTT Docomo Inc., Panasonic Corp., Daiwa Securities Group and Tokyo Electric Power Co.

BOJ, Fed

The Bank of Japan concludes a two-day meeting on Thursday in Tokyo and the Fed releases its policy decision on Wednesday in the U.S. Thirty-two of 34 economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the BOJ will keep policy on hold. None of the 43 economists surveyed for a Bloomberg poll expect the Fed will raise U.S. benchmark borrowing costs this week.

U.S. gross domestic product is set to grow 2.8 percent this year, the most since 2005, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg before data due Wednesday in Washington.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.1 percent after the underlying measure fell 0.4 percent on Monday in New York.

Japanese retail sales fell in March by the most since 1998, plunging 9.7 percent from a year earlier, government data released Tuesday in Tokyo showed.

Fanuc gained 3.3 percent, the biggest boost to the Nikkei 225. The company said it will double its dividend payout and aims to buy back shares in a “flexible manner” depending on the stock price.

Osaka Gas gained 3.2 percent after reporting an 84 percent increase in profit to 76.7 billion yen, beating its forecast for 71.5 billion yen.

Tokyo Electron tumbled 15 percent after Applied Materials Inc. scrapped its $9.39 billion takeover bid for the maker of chipmaking equipment amid opposition from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Komatsu slumped 3.1 percent after reporting a 15 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit after slower economic growth in China undermined the appetite of mining companies to invest in resource-rich nations.

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