Nikkei jumps 2 pct on optimism ahead of U.S. jobs report

Thu Feb 6, 2014 9:12pm EST

* Nikkei above 200-day average for first time in 4 days
    * Foreigners seen buying back after Japan shares
underperformed
    * Sony jumps 5 pct on restructuring plan

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average jumped 2
percent on Friday morning, moving away from a four-month low hit
earlier this week, as investor sentiment was brightened by a
rally on Wall Street and hopes for an upbeat U.S. jobs report
later in the day.
    The Nikkei was up 1.7 percent at 14,401.82 in
midmorning trade after touching 14,448.14 earlier, recovering
from a four-month trough of 13,995.86 set on Wednesday.
    The benchmark traded above its 200-day moving average of
14,437.24 for the first time in four days, after falling below
that line on Tuesday.
    "Investors are gradually convinced that the weak December
U.S. jobs data was a one-time thing, and since the Japanese
market has underperformed other markets, foreigners are buying
back," said Isao Kubo, an equity strategist at Nissay Asset
Management.
    He added that if Friday's U.S. jobs data is in line with the
market consensus or better than expected, the Nikkei will likely
regain momentum and move back above 15,000 in the next week.
    The U.S. nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show that
employers added 185,000 jobs in January, according to the median
estimate of economists polled by Reuters.
    On Thursday, data showed that the number of Americans filing
new claims for unemployment benefits had fallen more than
expected last week, boding well for the U.S. jobs market and
overall economy. 
    The Topix added 1.4 percent to 1,178.68.
    Sony Corp jumped 5.1 percent to a 1-1/2-week high
and was the third-most traded stock by turnover. The company
said on Thursday that it would spin off its TV operations into a
separate business and sell its Vaio personal computer division,
in a bid to end losses. 
    Exporters got a lift as the yen traded around 102.00 
to the dollar, having weakened from an 11-week high near 100.76
set on Tuesday. A weaker yen inflates Japanese exporters'
overseas earnings when repatriated and can boost their
competitiveness.
    Canon Inc surged 3 percent, Honda Motor Co 
rose 1.8 percent and Sharp Corp gained 3.9 percent.
    Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp rose 4.8 percent
after the company said it would buy back up to 3.34 percent of
its shares outstanding for as much as 200 billion yen.
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, an index launched this
year comprised of firms with high return on equity and strong
corporate governance, rose 1.3 percent to 10,636.95.
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