Nikkei sets new 4-1/2 year high near 12,000; domestic plays lead
TOKYO - The Nikkei share average scaled a new 4-1/2 year high on Wednesday, within sight of the 12,000 mark, helped by a record closing on Wall Street and prospects of a reflationary policy in Japan to revive growth.
With investors buying global cylical stocks as well as those focused on the Japanese market, 31 out of 33 subsectors advanced. Retailers, insurers, information and communication companies, and warehouse operators, outperformed the overall market.
The Nikkei ended 2.1 percent higher at 11,932.27, its highest closing level since late September 2008, shrugging off gains in the yen.
"Currently, market players don't care as much about forex moves. The rally is more about excess liquidity to be created by monetary and the expectations that more money to flow into the stock market," said Mitsushige Akino, executive director and chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management.
Sharp Corp, the most traded stock on the main board by turnover, soared 14.1 percent to a one-month closing high after sources said South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is set to invest about $110 million in the struggling firm.
After the closing bell, Sharp said it will raise 10.3 billion yen through a share offer to Samsung in a bid to bolster its finance.
Expectations that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reflationary policies will be effective are likely to further lift asset-related shares including warehouses and railroad stocks.
"Until January, exporters led the Japanese market's gains, but people's interest is shifting to domestic-demand shares lately," said Yutaka Yoshino, chief technical analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities.
The Nikkei has gained nearly 15 percent this year, outperforming its global peers on the back of a weaker yen, mainly driven by Abe's call for aggressive monetary easing to fight Japan's chronic deflation.
"I think the Nikkei could hit 12,000-mark anytime this week. But even when it reaches to that level, I don't see the market getting any feeling of accomplishment," Ichiyoshi's Akino said.
"It will be just a pass point. I have a feeling that this is going to be a long rally."
Also boosted by U.S. Dow Jones industrial average hitting a record-closing high overnight, the broader Topix gained 1.5 percent to close at 1,003.22, its highest since October 2008.
Trading volume in Topix was relatively light, with 2.99 billion shares changing hands, compared with last week's daily average of 3.32 billion.
Analysts say domestic-focused stocks such as department stores will likely continue to attract buying due to recent strength in sales of luxury items.
Retailers were the second-best sectoral performer, gaining 2.8 percent, and the warehouse and wharf operators came third, adding 2.7 percent.
Insurers, which are also heavily focused in the domestic economy, also enjoyed investors' attention, up 3.2 percent as the best sectoral performer.
MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc jumped 6.2 percent and Tokio Marine Holdings Inc, NKSJ Holdings Inc and Sony Financial Holdings Inc were up between 3.5 and 4.3 percent. — Reuters