Foreign net buying of Japan stocks biggest in 3 months
TOKYO, March 19 (Reuters) - Foreign investors' net purchases of Japanese stocks in the last week was the biggest in more than three months as risk appetite was boosted by hopes of economic recovery and better shareholder returns, exchange data showed on Thursday. Foreign net buying of Japanese cash stocks was 306.2 billion yen during March 9-13, data released by the Tokyo Stock Exchange showed. It was the largest level since the week of Dec. 1-5. The Nikkei benchmark has been hitting fresh 15-year highs on optimism over steady economic recovery, improved corporate earnings and better shareholder returns, as well as expectations Japan will be one of the main beneficiaries of weak oil prices. The benchmark has outperformed other global peers this year. It has gained 11.6 percent, while the U.S. S&P 500 index has added 2.0 percent since the beginning of the year. "Long-only investors who were underweight Japan have to increase Japanese stock holdings if they don't want to lose," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. "Even foreigners who were neutral on Japan started thinking about being overweight." Fujito said that when foreign investors want to raise their investment stance on Japan, they tend to buy stocks with large market capitalisation. "There is a reason why Toyota and MUFG are hitting multi-year highs," Fujito said. Toyota Motor Corp has been continually hitting new highs, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose to the highest level since October 2008. On the other hand, trust banks, which manage pension funds' investments, were net sellers of Japanese stocks last week. They sold a net 35.47 billion yen of cash stocks, the biggest since Nov. 4-7, the exchange data showed. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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