Nikkei hits highest close since June 2008; Canon, Nintendo sink
* Nikkei rises above 13,900 for first time in 58 months * Expectations for weak yen buoy market * Canon, Nintendo suffer as investors disappoint with guidance * Shiseido falls after writing down $1.9 bln U.S. acquisition By Tomo Uetake TOKYO, April 25 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average climbed to a fresh, almost five-year high on Thursday, but the mood was tempered by sharp losses for Canon and Nintendo after they failed to meet investors' expectations of strong earnings guidance. Market analysts had expected Japanese companies to aggressively raise their earnings guidance after the yen weakened more than 14 percent this year, driven by bold government and central bank policies to revive growth. Still, investors remained optimistic about Tokyo stocks on the view that the yen - which last traded at 99.13 to the dollar - still has room to weaken. That helped gave a lift to blue-chip stocks in late trading on Thursday. "There is market talk and expectations that substantial USD/JPY options expiries at 100 yen, due later today, would trigger the next leg in the yen's weakness," said Mitsushige Akino, executive director and chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management. The Nikkei closed 0.6 percent higher at 13,926.08 after trading as high as 13,974.26, its highest level since June 2008. The index jumped 2.3 percent on Wednesday. Among blue-chip exporters, Toyota Motor Corp gained 2 percent, Panasonic Corp advanced 1.7 percent and TDK Corp added 3.6 percent. But Canon Inc sank 6.4 percent, retreating from a one-year high. The maker of cameras and printers raised its annual operating profit forecast by nearly 10 percent to 450 billion yen ($4.5 billion), but below a market consensus of 510 billion yen. It was the top-weighted loser and the most traded stock on the main board by turnover. Rival Nikon Corp retreated 3.7 percent. Nintendo Co Ltd tumbled 5.9 percent after the gaming company reported an operating loss of 36.4 billion yen in the fiscal year ended March 31, deeper than a consensus estimate of a 12 billion yen loss. Shiseido Co Ltd was the sixth top-weighted loser in the Nikkei, losing 4.1 percent. The cosmetics company forecast its first net loss in eight years after saying it would write down the $1.9 billion acquisition of the U.S. company Bare Escentuals due to disappointing sales. The broader Topix index rose 0.7 percent to 1,172.78 in active trade, with 4.36 billion shares changing hands. That was higher than last month's average trading volume of 3.24 billion shares and last week's average trading volume of 4.07 billion. BULLISH ON JAPAN Investors remained upbeat on the outlook for Japanese stocks, although government data showed foreign investors were net sellers of Japanese equities last week, with a net outflow of 27.9 billion yen after they bought 1.57 trillion yen of equities in the previous week. "Dollar strength is a headwind for emerging markets equities and we would use a bounce to reduce exposure further. Japan is our favourite equity market," Trevor Greetham, director of asset allocation at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, wrote in a note. "Japan benefits from dollar strength and it has very positive domestic policy settings from an equity investors' point of view." In terms of valuations, Japanese equities carry a 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 14.9, a level not seen since June 2010 but is still below its 10-year average of 16.3, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream. The benchmark Nikkei has rallied 61 percent since mid-November, when Shinzo Abe, who became prime minister in December, promised expansionary monetary and fiscal policies to revive the world's third-largest economy. The Bank of Japan is expected to stand pat at its policy-setting meeting on Friday after it unveiled sweeping stimulus measures earlier this month.
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