Japan's Nikkei 225 Closes at Three-Month High as Builders Rise

  • Topix index trading volume 12 percent below 30-day average
  • U.S. markets closed Thursday for Thanksgiving holiday

Japanese shares rose, driving the Nikkei 225 Stock Average to its highest close in three months, as builders, communication companies and consumer lenders led gains.

The Nikkei 225 added 0.5 percent to 19,944.41, closing in Tokyo at its highest level since Aug. 20. Volume on the gauge was 14 percent lower than the 30-day average. The broader Topix index climbed 0.5 percent to 1,602.32 as all but five of its 33 industry groups advanced.

Trading was light amid “a lack of catalysts,” said Yusuke Kuwayama, a portfolio manager at Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. in Tokyo. “The next big driver will be the December rate hike in the U.S. Investors want to see how the U.S. stock market performs after that.”

Global stocks have rallied from a two-year low reached in September as investors became more comfortable with the idea of higher U.S. borrowing costs. Bets the Federal Reserve will end a seven-year period of near-zero interest rates when it meets next month remain above 70 percent amid expectations the European Central Bank will go the other way, by expanding its asset purchases. Data on U.S. durable goods orders on Wednesday rounded out a picture of stabilization in manufacturing, even as consumer spending rose less than forecast.

Buy Now

“U.S. economic data was in line with expectations and provides some comfort,” said Mitsushige Akino, executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Investors expect markets will rise after the U.S. rate hike since uncertainty will be dispelled. They want to buy stocks now.”

The dollar gained against the yen on Wednesday after the U.S. data, boosting the outlook for offshore earnings at Japanese exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp., which rose 1.1 percent to be the biggest boost to the Topix. Shares of Nissan Motor Co. gained 1.4 percent and Honda Motor Co. added 1.5 percent.

Hodogaya Chemical Co. surged 28 percent and Ulvac Inc. jumped 6.5 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported Apple Inc. will switch to organic light-emitting diode screens for its iPhones from 2018. Both Japanese firms supply materials and technology for the production of the screens.

The report sent shares of Japan Display Inc. and Sharp Corp., which supply liquid crystal displays currently used in iPhones, down by at least 6.8 percent. Minebea Co., which supplies backlights for LCD screens, dropped 7.5 percent.

Murakami Probe

Accordia Golf Co. fell 5.1 percent, extending yesterday’s loss, after regulators began a probe into one of its largest shareholders, Yoshiaki Murakami, according to an official at the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission. Japan’s securities watchdog is investigating Murakami, an activist investor and convicted insider trader, for allegedly manipulating stock prices.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.1 percent after the underlying gauge closed little changed on Wednesday amid light trading ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.

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