November 15, 2013 / 1:25 AM / 4 years ago

Nikkei scales 6-mth high, heads for best weekly rise in 4 years

* Nikkei scales 6-month high, set to log best weekly rise in
4 years
    * Rally attracts retail investors' interest, as ETFs demand
    * Financials rise on strong earnings

    By Dominic Lau
    TOKYO, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average surged
above the 15,000-mark for the first time in six months on
Friday, as strong quarterly earnings buoyed financials while
exporters took advantage of the yen's slide to a two-month low
against the dollar. 
    Consensus-beating results or upgrade in earnings guidance
helped lift shares in Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group 
0.9 percent, Mizuho Financial Group 1.9 percent and
Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co Ltd 3.4 percent.
    Mitsubishi UFJ was the fifth-most traded stock on the main
board by turnover.
    Insurer T&D Holdings Inc gained 2.4 percent as
investors bet the financial firm to raise its annual net profit
guidance after its six-month earnings reached 62 percent of its
full-year target.     
    The Nikkei advanced 1.1 percent at 15,038.43. It was
up 6.7 percent this week, on track for its best weekly
performance since December 2009.
    "Cash hasn't been that active. Volumes are up but a lot of
that is in exchange traded funds," a Tokyo-based senior trader
at a European bank said.
    Nomura NF Nikkei Avg Leverage Index Link EFT, up
2.1 percent, was the most traded security on the main board.
    "People are buying high-beta stuff like Nomura and
Daiwa Securities," the trader added.
    Nomura Holdings, Japan's top brokerage, jumped 3.5 percent
and was the second-most traded.
    Currency-sensitive exporters were also in demand after the
yen slid to a two-month low of 100.27 to the dollar. A
risk-on mood in global markets weighed on the safe-haven yen,
which was also hit on Thursday by Finance Minister Taro Aso's
remarks that Tokyo must retain currency intervention as a policy
    Toyota Motor Corp added 1 percent, Sony Corp
 rose 3.8 percent and Canon Inc strengthened
1.3 percent.
    The benchmark Nikkei has risen 45 percent so far this year
and the yen has fallen 15 percent, driven by Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe's massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. 
    But the Nikkei rally -- the best among major developed
markets -- has stalled after hitting a 5-1/2 year peak in May as
investors were concerned that the promise of structural reform
by Abe would fall short of expectations.
    Still, the stimulus has been a powerful antidote to help
Japan Inc pull out of years of slumber, hurt by the strong yen,
a depressed economy and rising competitions from South Korea and
    Of the 157 Nikkei companies that have so far reported
quarterly earnings, two-third of them either beat or met market
expectations, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. That
compared with 44 percent in the three-month period a year ago.
    Despite the improvements in earnings, a Reuters survey
showed Japanese companies remain cautious about boosting wages
or investment -- elements that are key for securing a
sustainable recovery.  
    The broader Topix index gained 1 percent to 1,231.15
on Friday morning, with volume at 28 percent of full daily
average for the past 90 trading days.

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