Nikkei gains on solid earnings, Wall Street gains and BOJ relief
* 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 earnings * Murata, Fujitsu jump on upbeat guidance By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, May 1 (Reuters) - 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 some manufacturers. 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 industry sub-indexes. 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 government-affiliated bank. 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)
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