Japanese Stocks Rise on U.S. Jobless Claims, BOJ Nominees

Japanese shares rose, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average extending a four-and-a-half year high, after U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly fell and Japan’s upper house approved Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nominees to lead the central bank.

Honda Motor Co., a carmaker that gets 44 percent of its sales in North America, climbed 2.6 percent. Sony Corp., Japan’s No. 1 exporter of consumer electronics, jumped 11 percent after Daiwa Securities Group Inc. recommended buying the stock. AltPlus Inc., which makes social games for smartphones and tablets, soared 212 percent after going untraded in its debut yesterday.

The Nikkei 225 added 1.5 percent to 12,560.95 in Tokyo, the highest close since Sept. 8, 2008. The gauge capped a 2.3 percent advance this week for a second week of gains. The broader Topix Index advanced 1.3 percent to 1,051.65, with more than three stocks rising for each that fell.

“Confidence is rising about the U.S. economy on strong economic data,” said Kenichi Kubo, a senior fund manager at Tokio Marine Asset Management Co., which oversees about 5 trillion yen ($52 billion). “I’m hearing talk of a possible emergency meeting for the Bank of Japan. If it happens, it could introduce drastic measures.”

The Topix rallied 46 percent from Nov. 14, when elections were announced that returned Abe to power, fueling optimism the new government will do more to beat deflation. The gauge is trading at 1.2 times book value, compared with 2.3 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 1.7 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

BOJ Leadership

Haruhiko Kuroda was confirmed as central bank governor by the upper house today following approval by the lower house yesterday, with Kikuo Iwata and Hiroshi Nakaso to serve as deputy governors. Sitting BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa and his deputies step down on March 19. The next central bank policy meeting is scheduled for April 3-4. Kuroda has pledged to do whatever it takes to end 15 years of deflation.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index rose 0.2 percent today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average yesterday extended its longest rally since 1996 as Labor Department data showed the number of Americans filing for initial unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in almost two months.

Exporters to the U.S. gained, with Honda adding 2.6 percent to 3,820 yen. Fanuc Corp., a maker of factory robotics that gets 14 percent of its sale in North America, rose 2.1 percent to 14,410 yen.

Sony Jumps

Sony surged 11 percent to 1,668 yen after its rating was raised to buy from neutral at Daiwa and its target price was raised to 1,600 yen from 900 yen at Credit Suisse Group AG.

AltPlus Inc. soared 212 percent to 4,680 yen after going untraded in its debut yesterday.

Nippon Meat Packers Inc. jumped 6.5 percent to 1,552 yen, the highest since October 2008. Prime Minister Abe may sacrifice protections for Japan’s beef and wheat farmers as he joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks, said a former government adviser on farm policy.

Shipping lines rose the most among the Topix’s 33 industry groups on the TPP negotiations and as the Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, added 0.6 percent yesterday.

Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan’s biggest shipping line by sales, jumped 6.4 percent to 265 yen. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., ranked No. 2, gained 6 percent to 336 yen.

Tokyo Dome Corp. surged 15 percent to 527 yen after the stadium operator said full-year net income surged tenfold. The shares soared 13 percent yesterday ahead of the announcement.

The Nikkei Stock Average Volatility Index slid 0.1 percent to 23.83 today, indicating traders expect a swing of about 6.8 percent on the benchmark gauge over the next 30 days. Trading volume on the Nikkei 225 was 20 percent below the 30-day average.

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