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Tokyo stocks extend gains as trade war concerns recede


Stocks closed higher after losing much of their early gains on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday as concerns over a global trade war receded further.

The 225-issue Nikkei average climbed 101.13 points, or 0.47 percent, to end at 21,469.20 after gaining 115.35 points on Thursday.

The Topix index of all first-section issues closed up 5.53 points, or 0.32 percent, at 1,715.48. It rose 5.99 points the previous day.

Stocks attracted purchases from the outset of Friday’s trading, as worries about a global trade war were reduced somewhat after U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive orders Thursday to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports turned out to be softer than initially thought, brokers said.

The Tokyo market soon accelerated its upswing, with geopolitical fears over the Korean Peninsula alleviated by news that Trump has accepted an invitation to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, brokers said.

The Nikkei average briefly gained over 500 points in the morning amid a “risk-on” mood.

Hit by selling on a rally, however, both the Nikkei and Topix gave up the earlier gains and sank into negative territory at one point in the afternoon.

Although purchases on declines soon sent the key market gauges back into the plus side, active buying was held in check prior to the announcement later Friday of U.S. government jobs data for February, according to brokers.

Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., said market traders were relieved that the U.S. import tariff plans are not so trade restrictive as to have “a negative impact on the global economy.”

But the Tokyo market failed to maintain its early upward momentum because “the dollar failed to retake ¥107,” Ichikawa said, indicating that a halt to the yen’s weakening battered investor sentiment.

A growing number of investors retreated to the sidelines in the afternoon to see the average hourly earnings component of the closely watched U.S. jobs data, an official of a bank-linked securities firm said.

The data for January, which showed a steep increase in wages, fueled concerns over a faster pace of interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, inducing heavy sell-offs in stocks at home and abroad.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,097 to 886 in the TSE’s first section, while 86 issues were unchanged.

Volume grew to 1.7 billion shares from 1.2 billion Thursday.

Home builder Sekisui House rose 4.88 percent after announcing Thursday that the company expects its operating profit for the year through January 2019 to grow 2.3 percent from this year to ¥200 billion.

Other major winners included mobile phone carrier SoftBank Group and semiconductor-related Tokyo Electron.

By contrast, defense-related Ishikawa Seisakusho and Howa Machinery plunged on receding geopolitical risks related to North Korea.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average rose 150 points to 21,350.