Nikkei rallies on U.S. earnings, Spain debt sale

Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:08pm EDT

* Nikkei regains key 9,500 level

* Toyota, exporters helped by weaker yen

* Financials gain as Spain worries ease somewhat

By Dominic Lau

TOKYO, April 18 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share index climbed 1.7 percent to regain the key 9,500 level on Wednesday after robust U.S. corporate earnings, a well-received Spanish debt sale and an upbeat German economic sentiment survey.

Comments by Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Kiyohiko Nishimura that the central bank is ready to take additional steps to ease monetary policy as necessary also brightened investors' mood after this week's sell-off on concerns over Spain's ability to finance its debt.

The Nikkei was up 157.68 points at 9,622.39 by the midday break, after falling below the psychologically important 9,500 mark on Monday.

"You have a bounce in the U.S. markets. You have some sense of policymakers in Europe who are keen to stabilise concerns there. Data wasn't horrible in the U.S. ... Earnings were good to mixed," said Stefan Worrall, director of equity cash sales at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.

"You have a huge sell-off, so it's not surprising that it has a bounce," he added.

Improved global risk appetite took the wind out of the yen, further boosting the appeal of Japanese exporters, which are strongly represented in the Nikkei benchmark.

Toyota Motor Corp and industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp both climbed 2.6 percent, while TDK Corp surged 3.6 percent.

The broader Topix index advanced 1.8 percent to 817.74. Trading volume on the main board was light, at 39 percent of its full daily average for the past 90 days.

"There are a lot of companies reporting this week in the U.S. ... I think just ahead of numbers, people are a little bit reluctant to put stuff to work," a senior dealer at a foreign bank said.

Financials were also in demand as concerns over Spain's ability to finance its debt eased somewhat after the country raised more funding than planned at its bill auction on Tuesday.

Sentiment also improved after German analyst and investor confidence rose unexpectedly in April to a high not seen since June 2010, while the U.S. company earnings season has had a surprisingly strong start.

Nomura Holdings, Japan's top investment bank, rose 3.5 percent. Megabanks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group gained between 2.9 and 3.2 percent.

On Tuesday, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, International Business Machines Corp and Intel reported profits that beat analysts' estimates.

The Nikkei has fallen 4.6 percent so far this month after rallying more than 19 percent in January-March, its best first-quarter performance in 24 years.

Global investors' appetite towards Japanese equities has waned in April.

A monthly survey of asset managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch showed investor allocation in Japanese stocks fell to 10 percent net underweight this month from 4 percent in March, but still above February's net 23 percent underweight.

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