Nikkei shrugs off weak trade data, rebounds on U.S. strength
By Joshua Hunt
TOKYO Feb 18 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rebounded on Thursday morning after better-than-expected U.S. economic data and rising oil prices fuelled a Wall Street rally and helped burnish global investor sentiment.
The Nikkei share average rose 2.4 percent to 16,214.13 in mid-morning trading. Japan's benchmark index shrugged off fresh domestic data that showed its exports declined the most since October 2009, instead taking cues from overnight signs of strength in the United States and Europe.
Data showed U.S. industrial production rose by the most in 14 months in January as manufacturing and utilities output increased, signalling improvement in the overall economy.
"There's no question that the U.S. has experienced a substantial rebound and that has set the tone for this morning's trading in terms of instilling confidence in the broader outlook," said Stefan Worrall, director of Japan equity sales at Credit Suisse.
"That the market has chosen to focus on U.S. strength rather than Japan's weak January trade data suggests that a lot of negativity had already been priced in, which isn't surprising considering the terrible sell-off we saw in the beginning of this year."
Market players added that many investors will recognise the impact of a stronger yen in January on that month's weaker-than-expected exports, and may take confidence from the currency's return to a weakening trend, even if the latter remains fragile.
"The impact of the stronger yen in January was definitely one factor," said Gavin Parry, managing director at Parry International Trading.
"Another was the impact of slowing exports to China, Japan's largest trading partner, which is a further indication of the slowdown there." Continuación...