Japan's Nikkei rises to near 5-yr highs on BOJ steps, gov't bonds mixed

Mon Apr 8, 2013 11:15pm EDT

* Benchmark JGB steady, superlongs slip

* Exporters stay firm as yen falls to lowest since May 2009 vs dollar

* Shares in real estate firms weak as investors cash in gains

By Dominic Lau and Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO, April 9 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average rose to its highest level in nearly five years for a third straight day on Tuesday as investors continued to plow money into equities after the central bank lost no time in kickstarting bold stimulus steps announced last week.

Benchmark Japanese government debt prices were steady, although superlong bonds slipped ahead of a 30-year sale later this week.

"It's still a quantitative easing market," said a senior equity trader at a foreign brokerage in Tokyo. "There is some profit taking after some of the big moves yesterday ... Small real estate stocks are still getting up there."

The real estate sector, which is seen as the biggest beneficiary of Japan's push to reflate the economy, lost 2.2 percent after rallying more than 26 percent in the previous three sessions.

Within the sector, real estate investment fund Kenedix Inc jumped 12.5 percent and was the most-traded stocks on the main board by turnover.

By the midday break, the Nikkei advanced 0.5 percent to 13,260.04 after trading as high as 13,331.39, its highest level since August 2008. It was on track for a fifth straight day of gains.

Financial firms, another sector expected to do well, continued to attract buyers, with Nomura Holdings, Japan's top brokerage, up 1.4 percent and consumer financing firm Aiful Corp, the second-most traded stock, adding 3.7 percent.

The Bank of Japan promises to inject $1.4 trillion into the world's third-largest economy in less than two years buy buying government bonds across the yield curve as well as riskier exchange-traded funds.

The BOJ on Monday launched its campaign by offering to buy 1 trillion yen ($10.3 billion) of JGBs with maturities of between five and 10 years, and 200 billion yen of bonds with maturities exceeding 10 years.

The extraordinary measures, which is aimed at ending nearly two decades of deflation and economic malaise, has triggered a wave of buying in Japanese equities.

The benchmark Nikkei has surged 53 percent since mid-November, when Shinzo Abe promised expansionist fiscal and monetary policies, dubbed "Abenomics", to revive the world's third-largest economy during his election campaign. He was elected prime minister the following month.

JGB MIXED

Japanese government bond prices were mixed. The 10-year yield was unchanged at 0.520 percent, holding well above a record low of 0.315 percent hit the day after the BOJ's policy announcement.

Ten-year JGB futures ended morning trade up 0.28 point at 144.62, below their all time record high of 146.41 marked on Friday but also well off a 10-month low of 143.10 hit during that volatile session.

Longer maturities underperformed, with some investors eyeing Thursday's 30-year auction as the first test of real demand in the new market order forged by the central bank's radical scheme.

"We are still getting used to a market in which the central bank is the main player, so it's hard to predict how the auction will go," said a fixed-income fund manager at a Japanese trust bank.

The 20-year yield added 6.5 basis points to 1.290 percent, while the 30-year yield rose 6 basis points to 1.375 percent.

MUCH IN PRICE?

Andrew Pease, chief investment strategist for Asia-Pacific at Russell Investments, said the stock market had already priced in a strong rise in company earnings this year.

"If you look at the price-to-book value, which is still below 1.5 times, you know Japan still has got some long-term value," Pease said.

"It's still probably OK, particularly to the extent that you know they are going to push the yen down. But most of the reflation rally, I would say, already happened."

Exporters were buoyed by a softer yen, which fell as much as 0.3 percent on Tuesday to 99.67 to the dollar, its lowest level since May 2009.

Canon Inc, TDK Corp, Suzuki Motor Corp and Olympus Corp rose between 2.1 and 3.2 percent.

Societe Generale highlighted a number of exporters, which it said are "super sensitive" to yen depreciation, including Ricoh Co Ltd, Olympus, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd , Honda Motor Co and Canon.

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