Nikkei steady as market awaits Yellen's speech

lunes 23 de febrero de 2015 22:18 GYT

* Nikkei flirting with 5th straight days of gains
    * Power companies underperform on GS rating cuts

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged
up on Tuesday but investors were cautious ahead of comments from
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen which could give clues
on the likely lift-off date for policy tightening.
    The Nikkei rose 0.1 percent to 18,482.55 points
after dipping into negative territory briefly. If it ends
higher, it will have posted five straight days of gains.
    Expectations that the Fed will hike interest rates this year
amid signals of a strengthening U.S. economy have kept the
market sensitive to the prospects of capital outflows from Asia
back to the United States.
    "The consensus is that the Fed will raise rates some time
between June and December, and people are speculating hard,"
said Masaru Hamasaki, head of market and investment information
department at Amundi Japan.    
    Yellen testifies before Congress later on Tuesday and there
is much uncertainty over whether she will echo the dovish tone
of the minutes from the Fed's last meeting, or reaffirm June as
a window for a first rate hike.
    Analysts also said that since Japanese stocks have been
trading at 15-year highs and there are signs that the market is
overbought, Yellen's speech could trigger profit-taking.
    "The market will be watching Yellen's every word, if she
sticks to the word 'patient' or 'considerable time'. If she uses
different terms which imply an earlier rate hike, stocks may be
sold," Hamasaki said.
    The toraku ratio, or up-down ratio, stood at 138.65. A level
above 120 signals an overbought market. The ratio is calculated
by dividing the 25-day moving average of stocks on the Tokyo
Stock Exchange's first section that gained by the 25-day average
of those that fell.
    Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp being
flat and Nissan Motor Co falling 1.6 percent.
    Daiwa House Industry gained 1.1 percent after the
Nikkei business daily reported that it will likely post an
operating profit of about 200 billion yen for the year ending
March 2016, higher than the current year through March. 
    Underperforming the market were power companies after
Goldman Sachs cut their ratings.
    Hokuriku Electric Power Co dropped 3.0 percent
while Shikoku Electric Power Co <9507.T) dived 7.0 percent after
the brokerage cut their ratings to 'sell' from 'neutral'.
    The broader Topix dropped 0.1 percent to 1,500.80,
and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 0.2 percent to

 (Editing by Kim Coghill)