Japan Stocks Rise Fifth Day on U.S. Jobs; Panasonic Soars

Japanese shares rose after the Nikkei 225 Stock Average capped its longest weekly winning streak since 1959, as U.S. jobs and manufacturing data boosted optimism in the world’s biggest economy. Panasonic Corp. soared after posting an unexpected third-quarter profit.

Panasonic rose 17 percent, the television maker’s biggest gain since at least 1974. Sony Corp. gained 7.5 percent after an analyst said the nation’s top exporter of consumer electronics is preparing a new version of its PlayStation game console. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. jumped 21 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported it will sell jointly developed minicars with Nissan Motor Co.

The Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent to close at 11,260.35 in Tokyo after capping a 12-week advance on Feb. 1, the longest such winning streak in 53 years, according to Nikkei Inc. The broader Topix Index rose 1.4 percent to 955.75, with about two stocks rising for every one that fell.

“U.S. reports were good and you can consider them positive without reservations,” said Kenichi Kubo, a senior fund manager at Tokio Marine Asset Management Co., which oversees about 5 trillion yen ($54 billion). “Japanese stocks are rising on the back of firm U.S. equities and other factors unique to Japan.”

The Topix surged 32 percent since Nov. 14, when national elections were announced on optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new government will take steps to fight deflation. The gauge is trading at 1.13 times book value, compared with 2.1 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 1.5 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Japan Pension Fund

Japan’s public pension fund, the world’s biggest manager of retirement savings, is considering changes to its asset structure as the new government pursues policies to weaken the yen that could erode the value of 69.3 trillion in local bonds. The Government Pension Investment Fund, which oversees about 108 trillion yen in assets, will begin talks in April about whether to reduce its 67 percent target allocation to domestic bonds, Takahiro Mitani, the fund’s president, said Feb. 1.

Of the 140 companies on the Topix that have reported earnings so far this quarter and for which Bloomberg has estimates, 60 percent have exceeded profit expectations. Some 51 percent of companies missed sales projections, the data show.

Panasonic jumped 17 percent to 692 yen after posting an unexpected profit because of a weaker yen, asset sales and job cuts. Net income was 61 billion yen in the three months ended Dec. 31, the company said Feb. 1.

Sharp Rises

Sharp Corp., Japan’s largest maker of liquid-crystal displays, rose 5.5 percent to 347 yen after its third-quarter net loss narrowed.

NTT Data Corp. led declines on the Nikkei 225 after reporting a drop in operating profit. The stock dropped 5.2 percent to 270,200 yen.

Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed today. The gauge gained less than 1 percent on Feb. 1, when Labor Department figures showed payrolls gained 157,000 in January after a revised 196,000 advance in the prior month. Other reports showed U.S. manufacturing reached a nine-month high in January, beating forecasts. Household confidence also rose unexpectedly.

“The U.S. continues to add jobs but they must maintain monetary easing because the recovery isn’t robust,” said Masayuki Doshida, a senior market analyst at Rakuten Economic Research Institute in Tokyo. “That’s a plus for stocks and the economy.”

Mazda Motor Corp., an automaker that gets 28 percent of its sales in North America, gained 9 percent to 280 yen. The stock has soared 61 percent year-to-date, making it the best-performing Japanese car manufacturer.

Mitsubishi Motors Soars

Mitsubishi Motors surged 21 percent to 125 yen, the biggest gain since October 2008. Nissan in June will start sales of minicars developed with Mitsubishi, while scaling back its partnership with Suzuki Motor Corp. in the sector, the Nikkei reported today. Nissan gained 4.3 percent to 975 yen, while Suzuki fell 1.4 percent to 2,401 yen.

The non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a measure of China’s services industries, rose to 56.2 in January from 56.1 in December, the Beijing-based National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing said in a statement yesterday. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Volume on the Nikkei 225 was about 54 percent above its 30-day average at the market close. The Nikkei Stock Average Volatility Index rose 1.4 percent to 23.66, indicating traders expect a swing of about 6.8 percent on the benchmark gauge over the next 30 days.

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