Nikkei hits 2-wk high as energy firms shine; Showa Shell soars on M&A report

domingo 21 de diciembre de 2014 23:16 GYT
 

* Nikkei flat, Topix up 0.1 pct
    * Oil-related shares jump on merger news, rebounding oil
prices
    * Trade thin as holiday period beckons
    * Nikkei may test new highs toward year-end - traders

    By Tomo Uetake
    TOKYO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks briefly hit a
two-week high on Monday morning, led by oil-related shares on
rebounding crude prices and as Showa Shell Sekiyu 
surged over 25 percent on a media report of an impending
takeover bid.
    The benchmark Nikkei share average rose as high as
17,692.58, the best level since December 9, before erasing gains
to stand at 17,621.66 by the midday break, almost flat from
Friday close.
    Oil-related shares led the rally, with the oil and coal
products companies subindex jumping 7.7 percent to
become the best performing sector on the main board.
    U.S. crude futures rose to near $57.50 a barrel in
early Asian trades on Monday, extending a rise helped by
profit-taking on short positions. 
    Oil refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu was the highlight of the
session, surging 25.6 percent after media reported the oil
refiner was in talks to be acquired by a larger rival, Idemitsu
Kosan Co Ltd, for up to 500 billion yen ($4.2 billion)
in a deal that could create Japan's second largest player in the
domestic gasoline market. 
    "Hopes are high for industry restructuring and this provides
broad support for related stocks," said Yasuo Sakuma, portfolio
manager at Bayview Asset Management.
    Showa Shell was the fifth-heaviest traded stocks by turnover
on the Topix. Idemitsu Kosan gained 4.8 percent.
    JX Holdings Inc, the industry leader, gained 6.2
percent and Cosmo Oil Co Ltd soared 16.6 percent.    
Japan's top oil and gas explorer Inpex Corp gained 3.5
percent after oil prices bounced back from multi-year lows.
    Some profit taking weighed on the market as the Nikkei
gained more than 800 point, or nearly 5 percent, in the previous
three sessions.
    Trading was slower than usual as many offshore players were
on holidays ahead of Christmas, leaving domestic traders as the
main players. Japanese markets will be closed on Tuesday for a
public holiday.
    The broader Topix added 0.1 percent, while the new
JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also rose 0.1 percent. 
    Some traders called on domestic investors to play a more
active role in Japan's stock market. 
    Foreign players account for about 70 percent of market
volume.
    "Japanese stock markets depends too heavily on foreign
investors. We need Mrs. Watanabe to buy Japanese equities in
order to push the markets on to the next level in 2015," said
Kathy Matsui, chief Japan strategist at Goldman Sachs.
    ($1 = 119.5500 yen)

 (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)