May 11, 2020 / 3:55 AM / 14 days ago

Tokyo stocks at 2-month high as lockdown-exit hopes spur cyclicals

SYDNEY, May 11 (Reuters) - Japanese shares hit a two-month high on Monday, as economies prepare to reopen businesses from coronavirus-induced lockdown and on positive cues from Wall Street after U.S. data on historic job losses showed they were slightly fewer than feared.

The benchmark Nikkei average climbed 1.4% to 20,466.58 points by the midday break. Earlier in the session, the index rose as much as 1.8% to hit its highest since March 6.

Wall Street’s three major indexes jumped on Friday after the April non-farm payrolls report proved dire, but not quite as awful as analysts had feared.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 index was last quoted 0.5% higher in Asian trade.

Global stocks have been rebounding since late March as economic activities restarted businesses from the lockdown put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Japan last week extended the nationwide state of emergency until the end of May, saying it would reassess the situation on May 14 and possibly lift the measures earlier for some prefectures.

Among other nations, however, South Korea warned of a second wave of the new coronavirus as infections rebounded to a one-month high, while new infections accelerated in Germany.

“Investors seem to be determined to focus on the positive. They cheered companies that could provide some sort of earnings guidance and even took bad results as a sign of running out of bad news,” said Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at Libra Investments.

Sumco Corp surged 5.8% even after the semiconductor silicon wafer producer reported a 41.2% drop in operating profit for the January-March quarter and forecast a 29.6% fall in the January-June period.

Minebea Mitsumi Inc soared 6.9% as the bearing manufacturer managed to give a full-year profit outlook for the year through March 2021.

“I think this trend will be accelerated if the Japanese government decides to ease coronavirus restrictions in some areas on May 14,” said Libra’s Sakuma.

The broader Topix gained 1.4% to 1,479.33 by the midday recess, also its highest level in two months, with all but three of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange in positive territory.

Highly cyclical air transport, sea transport and iron and steel were the top three performing sectors on the main bourse. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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