Nikkei scales more than 6-year high, driven by retail investors

Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:15pm EST

* Construction firms up on Tokyo's plan for expressway
upgrade
    * Japan companies' 1-month earnings momentum improves in Dec
-I/B/E/S

    By Dominic Lau
    TOKYO, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Tokyo's Nikkei share average
climbed 0.9 percent to a more than six-year high on Thursday,
with buying mostly by retail investors as tax-free investment
accounts aimed at driving Japanese savings into stocks kicked
off.
    The Nikkei was up 145.99 points at 16,155.98 in
mid-morning trade, after closing above 16,000 for the first time
since December 2007 on Wednesday.
    The government-sponsored investment plan, known as Nippon
Individual Savings Account, will provide a five-year tax holiday
on dividends and capital gains provided the money is invested in
stocks, mutual funds or exchange traded funds. 
    "Today's the first day of the NISA trading start, so retail
investors are quite active, or at least investment trusts will
be quite active because they will be handling the money from
retail investors," a senior trader at a European bank in Tokyo
said.
    The benchmark Nikkei is up 55 percent this year, on track
for its best annual performance since 1972, driven by Japan's
aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus to boost growth in the
world's third-largest economy.
    
    Also underscoring the positive short-term outlook, Japanese
companies' one-month earning momentum improved to 4.3 percent
from -0.65 last month, data from Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S showed.
That compared with -4.19 percent for the Standard & Poor's 500
.    
    "A lot of the laggards will start to pick up, mainly autos
and banks," the trader said.
    "Those are among the most popular among retail investors for
the long-term."
    Toyota Motor Corp, the most traded stock on the
main board, climbed 2.6 percent, while Mazda Motor Corp 
gained 3.5 percent and was the fourth most-traded.
    Mazda Motor is the best performer in the Nikkei this year,
up more than 190 percent.
    Among banks, Mitsubisihi UFJ Financial Group, the
sixth most-traded, gained 1.5 percent and Mizuho Financial Group
 advanced 1.9 percent.
    The broader Topix index rose 1.2 percent to
1,272.98, with volume at 31 percent of full daily average for
the past 90 trading days.
    Construction-related companies were also in demand after
Metropolitan Expressway Co Ltd said it would spend 630 billion
yen to upgrade and refurbish highways in the Tokyo area ahead of
the 2020 Summer Olympics.
    Japan Bridge Corp jumped 13.2 percent and Obayashi
Road Corp surged 7.7 percent, while Tokyu Construction
Co Ltd, Toa Road Corp and P.S. Mitsubishi
Construction Co Ltd were up between 5.3 and 7.1
percent.
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Find your dream retirement town

Florida? Hawaii? Reuters has teamed up with Zillow to give you the power to customize a list of your best places to retire.  Video | Full Article