* Record closing high in Dow improves sentiment
* Kuroda's comments did not quash hopes of future BOJ easing
* Brokerage shares soar after Nomura and Daiwa announce
* Murata, Fujitsu jump on upbeat guidance
By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO, May 1 Japanese shares rallied on
Thursday, helped by a record closing high in the U.S. Dow and
solid earnings from brokerage firms such as Nomura Holdings, and
Investors were also relieved that Bank of Japan Governor
Haruhiko Kuroda did not rule out future easing the previous day,
after the central bank's upbeat economic assessment had raised
worries that additional stimulus may not be on the cards.
"At least he seems to have considered not completely denying
future easing," said Eiji Kinouchi, chief technical analyst at
Daiwa Securities. Kuroda spoke after market close on Wednesday.
The Nikkei share average rose 0.4 percent, helped by
strong sentiment after U.S. shares advanced on Wednesday as the
Federal Reserve gave an upbeat view of the economy.
The Dow clinched a record closing high even as the Fed
announced another cut to its bond-buying programme while
investors also brushed aside data showing anaemic first-quarter
U.S. growth, blaming the severe winter.
Japanese shares underperformed U.S. and most other shares
last month due in part to concerns a sales tax hike that kicked
in on April 1 could choke off growth.
But such worries may have been already priced in, said
Daiwa's Kinouchi. "The Nikkei hit bottom on April 11. The
interesting thing is that the last time Japan raised tax hike
(in April 1997), the Nikkei also bottomed on April 11. So you
could say concerns about tax hikes are already priced in."
The market barely responded to Chinese official
manufacturing PMI, which printed almost in line with market
expectations, showing a fractional improvement in April.
Nomura Holdings jumped 6.3 percent in heavy trade,
becoming the most-traded share on the Tokyo Stock Exchange after
posting upbeat earnings and announcing a share buyback plan.
Rival Daiwa Securities Group gained 4.2 percent
following its own earnings. Brokerage shares gained
4.7 percent, by far the top performer among the TSE's 33
Murata Manufacturing soared 6.9 percent after it
unveiled an estimate of a firm profit growth and a plan to
increase dividend in the year to March.
Fujitsu also gained 7.7 percent after its guidance
for 2014/15 beat market expectations.
Electric power companies, which have been long under
pressure because of the nuclear shutdown plant after the
Fukushima disaster in 2011, were also winners.
Kyushu Electric Power rose 7.0 percent and
Hokkaido Electric Power gained 12.2 percent after each
announced a plan to issue preferred shares to a
Tokyo Electric Power also rose 1.6 percent
after the operator of the Fukushima plant reported its first
operation profits in three years.
The broader Topix gained 0.7 percent while the new
JPX-Nikkei Index 400 rose 0.5 percent.
(Editing by Eric Meijer)