Nikkei set for 5th day of gains; Panasonic soars on auto investments

miércoles 20 de mayo de 2015 22:28 GYT

* Market capitalisation of Topix hits another record high
    * Foreigners placed net buy in stocks for May 11-15, MOF
    * Companies announcing shareholder returns attract buying

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, May 21 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose
for a fifth day on Thursday, hitting a fresh 15-year high as
optimism over domestic economic growth lingered, while Panasonic
Corp soared after saying it raised investment in the automotive
business this fiscal year.
    The Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent to 20,268.77 in
mid-morning trade after climbing as high as 20,298.19, the
highest since April 2000. The index has risen for five straight
days, the longest daily winning streak in three months.
    On Wednesday, the market capitalisation on the Tokyo Stock
Exchange's main board hit a record high during trade, exceeding
its 1989 peak of 590.9 trillion yen at one point. By 0116 GMT on
Thursday, market capitalisation rose higher to 592.8 trillion
    "We can't simply compare now with the late 80s because the
number of listed companies is different, but the fact that it
hit a record high is symbolic," said Hikaru Sato, a senior
technical analyst at Daiwa Securities. "It's symbolic that the
stock market has restored confidence."
    Market observers also said that while profit-taking was
likely in the short-term amid fast paced rises in the market,
foreign buying should support long-term sentiment.
    According to Ministry of Finance data released on Thursday
morning, foreigners bought a net 187.3 billion yen worth of
Japanese stocks from May 11-15.
    "Foreign investors have bought Japanese stocks on hopes for
strong profits and higher shareholder returns, and this trend is
likely to continue," said Masashi Oda, chief investment officer
at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
    Panasonic gained 4.2 percent to 1,825 yen, the
highest since October 2008 after it said it would increase its
investment in the automotive business industry by 50 percent to
165 billion yen for the year ending March 2016.
    Following the move, Nomura Securities raised its rating to
'buy' from 'neutral,' citing sales growth prospects.
    Some companies were in demand due to higher shareholder
return hopes. MS&AD Insurance jumped 6.1 percent after
it said it would buy back up to 10 million shares, or 1.63
percent of shares outstanding, worth up to 20 billion yen.
    Yamato Holdings gained 1.4 percent after the Nikkei
business daily reported that it is expected to buy back more
than 10 billion yen worth of its own shares during this fiscal
year through March.
    The broader Topix gained 0.6 percent to 1,653.12 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.6 percent to

 (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)