* Investors buy laggard Japanese stocks on attractive
valuation - analyst
* Speculation BOJ may hint of more stimulus - trader
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Feb 18 Japan's Nikkei share average
bounced from a 1 1/2-week low on Tuesday morning, spurred by a
retreat in the yen and investor hopes the central bank will hint
of further stimulus after surprisingly soft fourth quarter gross
domestic product data.
The Nikkei rose 1.1 percent to 14,620.20 in
mid-morning trade, moving away from lows of 14,214.60 hit on the
previous day after sentiment was soured by the soft fourth
quarter growth figures.
The Bank of Japan is widely expected to keep monetary
policy steady when it concludes its two-day review later in the
day, but traders say pressure is mounting for more easing steps
to bolster the economy.
"Some people have been speculating that the Bank Of Japan
may announce more ETF buying," said a trader at a foreign
brokerage, adding that markets will be keen to hear from BOJ
Governor Haruhiko Kuroda at his post-review press conference.
Exporters rose as the dollar tacked on 0.2 percent to
102.10 yen, pulling away from a nearly two-week low of
101.37 yen hit in the previous session.
Sony Corp added 1.3 percent and Canon Inc
jumped 1.7 percent. A weak yen lifts Japanese exporters'
competitiveness abroad as well as their dollar earnings when
"Foreign investors are picking up recently battered Japanese
stocks as their valuations are seen relatively attractive," said
Isao Kubo, equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management.
The Nikkei has come off about 10 percent since the start of
the year after booming 57 percent in 2013 on the back of
aggressive BOJ and government stimulus. Profit-taking and recent
emerging markets turmoil were partly responsible for this year's
Year-to-date, the U.S. S&P 500 Index for example, has
fallen 5 percent.
The Nikkei is trading 13.8 times expected earnings for the
year through March, while the S&P trades 18.4, according to
Thomson Reuters Starmine.
The Topix gained 1.0 percent to 1,204.47.
The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, an index launched this
year comprised of firms with high return on equity and strong
corporate governance, gained 1.0 percent to 10,886.36.