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Nikkei soars to close above 21,000 for first time in over two decades

JIJI

The benchmark Nikkei average surged to top 21,000 for the first time in nearly 21 years on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday, supported by brisk corporate earnings.

The Nikkei 225 average jumped 200.46 points, or 0.96 percent, to end at 21,155.18, ending above 21,000 for the first time since Nov. 29, 1996. The key market gauge extended its winning streak to a ninth session after climbing 73.45 points on Thursday.

The Topix, including all first-section issues, closed up 8.49 points, or 0.50 percent, at 1,708.62, the best finish since July 26, 2007. It rose 3.32 points the previous day.

Stocks attracted purchases thanks to robust earnings reports from major retailers, including casual clothing store operator Fast Retailing, brokers said.

The market accelerated its upswing in the afternoon, backed by hefty buying mainly from foreign investors who took heart from the Nikkei’s rise above the 21,000 line in the morning, brokers said.

Stocks “attracted purchases on expectations for robust corporate earnings,” said Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc.

Fujii also cited “a recovery in the global economy” as a factor behind the market’s advance.

“After the Nikkei retook 21,000 easily, investors apparently thought that the risk of not buying stocks is greater” than that of holding equities, said Akira Tanoue, senior investment strategist at Nomura Securities Co.

Stocks surged “on the back of hopes for strong earnings to be released by manufacturers and other firms later this month,” Tanoue added.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,206 to 723 in the TSE’s first section, while 101 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 1.8 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.5 billion.

Fast Retailing spurted 5.51 percent after announcing Thursday that its consolidated operating profit for the year through August jumped 38.6 percent from the previous year to ¥1.76 billion.

Retailer Seven & i Holdings attracted purchases inspired by its stronger-than-expected group operating profit for the six months through August, announced Thursday.

Other major winners included mobile phone carrier SoftBank Group and game maker Nintendo.

By contrast, glasses shop operator Jins met with heavy selling due to its weaker-than-expected consolidated operating profit forecast for the year through August 2018, brokers said.

Kobe Steel fell back sharply following the revelation of more cases of product inspection data fabrication.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average rose 210 points to 21,160.