Japan’s Topix Posts Biggest Weekly Gain Since April

Japan’s Topix index closed little changed, capping its biggest weekly advance since April, as investors weighed geopolitical tensions and shippers led gains.

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. jumped 4.1 percent after a gauge of commodity transport rates rose the most in eight months and UBS AG boosted its rating on the shipping line. Astellas Pharma Inc. climbed 1.6 percent after brokerages raised their price targets on the drugmaker. Daikin Industries Ltd., which makes warheads and air conditioners, fell 2.1 percent. Oil producers dropped as crude headed for a fourth weekly decline.

The Topix was little changed at 1,270.68 at the close of trading in Tokyo after rising as much as 0.1 percent and falling 0.2 percent. The measure posted a 3.5 percent increase this week, the most since the period ended April 18. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average was also little changed today at 15,318.34. The yen slid 0.1 percent to 102.55 per dollar. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.4 percent to a two-week high yesterday.

“There aren’t any domestic catalysts right now, so investors will be in a wait-and-see mood for a while,” said Naoki Fujiwara, Tokyo-based chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co., which oversees about 640 billion yen ($6.2 billion). “The risks in Ukraine look to have eased a bit.”

Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed. The measure gained yesterday as speculation the conflict in Ukraine won’t escalate outweighed weaker-than-estimated employment data.

Ukraine Strife

President Vladimir Putin pledged yesterday to try to halt the conflict over Ukraine. Even as Russia struck a conciliatory note, journalists at news outlets including Novoye Vremya and Hromadske TV reported seeing armored personnel vehicles crossing into Ukraine. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down to end a political impasse amid the Islamist insurgency.

The Topix Marine Transport Index gained 2.5 percent, the biggest advance among the 33 industry groups on the broader equity gauge. Kawasaki Kisen jumped 4.1 percent to 231 yen, the most since July 31. UBS boosted the stock to buy from neutral. Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., Japan’s second-biggest shipper by market value, rose 2.7 percent to 377 yen. Nippon Yusen K.K., the No. 1, gained 2.1 percent to 297 yen.

Astellas rose 1.6 percent to close at 1,493.5 yen, its highest close on record. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. boosted its price target on the stock to 1,680 yen from 1,530 yen, while Barclays Plc raised its outlook to 1,500 yen from 1,450 yen.

Oil prices headed for a fourth weekly decline, the longest such streak since November, amid speculation supplies are expanding as global demand slows. West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery is poised for a 2.2 percent decline this week to $95.52 per barrel.

Oil Explorers

Energy explorers slid. Inpex Corp. dropped 2.3 percent to 1,490.5 yen. Japan Drilling Co. sank 0.8 percent to 5,010 yen.

Daikin slumped 2.1 percent to 6,531 yen in a second day of declines. The Osaka-based company’s shares erased gains for the year, falling 0.3 percent.

The Topix has climbed 12 percent from this year’s low on April 14 amid optimism about the global economy, signs Japan is weathering a sales-tax increase and speculation the $1.2 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund will buy more domestic shares.

The gauge traded at 1.2 times book value today, compared with 2.7 for the S&P 500 and 1.8 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index yesterday. Volume on the Japanese gauge was 22 percent below the 30-day average today amid this week’s Obon holidays.

“The market had been bought amid thin trading for four days straight,” said Juichi Wako, a Tokyo-based equity strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc., the nation’s largest brokerage. “Many are likely to take profits as they adjust their holdings ahead of the weekend.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.