Japan Stocks Rise as Investors Weigh U.S. Jobs Data, Greek Vote

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Japanese stocks rose, paring a weekly loss by the Topix index, as investors await a weekend referendum in Greece and after jobs data signaled a more moderate pace of growth in the U.S. economy.

Fast Retailing Co. sank 3.7 percent after saying sales at its Uniqlo brand stores fell in June. Furukawa Electric Co. slumped 3.2 percent after Morgan Stanley reduced its rating on the cable maker. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. added 2.3 percent after a report the lender will set a target for reducing cross-held shares. FamilyMart Co. gained 1.2 percent after the retailer reported operating profit that beat analyst estimates.

The Topix climbed 0.2 percent to 1,652.09 at the close of trading in Tokyo after earlier falling as much as 0.2 percent. The measure lost 0.9 percent this week. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.1 percent to 20,539.79, posting a 0.8 percent drop this week.

The U.S. jobs data isn’t “a reason for the Federal Reserve to hurry into raising interest rates,” Nobuhiko Kuramochi, head of investment information at Mizuho Securities Co. said by phone. “Polls on the Greek vote show that the results are in the balance. It’s difficult for investors to move on Japanese stocks with major events ahead of us.”

Global equities are headed for the first weekly decline in a month after Greece roiled financial markets by calling a plebiscite on austerity demands, in turn missing a debt payment to the International Monetary Fund. U.S. payrolls data indicated the economy is improving slowly, with more jobs being created even as wages stagnate.

Jobless Rate

U.S. employers added 223,000 jobs in June, Labor Department figures showed Thursday, following a 254,000 increase in May that was less than previously reported. The jobless rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent as more people left the labor force. Average hourly earnings at private employers held at $24.95.

While the U.S. job market has rebounded, wage growth has yet to accelerate. The Federal Reserve is scrutinizing economic data as policy makers consider the timeline for the first U.S. rate increase since 2006.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed after the underlying benchmark fell less than 0.1 percent on Thursday, sliding for a second week. U.S. markets are closed Friday for a holiday. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.4 percent.

Greeks Divided

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said he would resign if the country votes to accept European Union bailout proposals in the weekend referendum. Polls suggest Greece is divided right down the middle.

Greece is now under capital controls, with banks and the stock market shut after its financial-aid package expired and it missed the IMF payment.

“Greece isn’t as high as the U.S. and China in trade relations with Japan, but Europe isn’t insignificant,” Kathy Matsui, chief Japan equity strategist with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., told Bloomberg TV. “Contagion that affects Europe is negative for Japan. But our base case is that it won’t spread to contagion risks.”

Fast Retailing slid 3.7 percent, the biggest single drag on the Topix. Same-store sales at it Uniqlo stores fell about 12 percent in June due to the cool weather, its biggest year-on-year decline since October 2013.

Furukawa Electric dropped 3.2 percent. Morgan Stanley reduced its investment rating on the stock to equalweight from overweight while cutting its share price target by 14 percent.

Sumitomo Mitsui gained 2.3 percent, the biggest boost to the Topix. The lender will set a target for reducing cross-shareholdings by autumn and it won’t, in principle, hold long-term shareholdings, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

FamilyMart added 1.2 percent. Operating profit rose 23 percent to 11.1 billion yen ($90 million) in the first quarter, beating analyst estimates for 10.6 billion yen.

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