Nikkei choppy, holds at 15-year high as Yellen supports

martes 24 de febrero de 2015 22:26 GYT

* Nikkei has gained 3.4 pct in five days
    * Some pullback possible as Nikkei hovering at 15-year peak
    * Banks outperform on report FSA will ease regulations

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks steadied around a
15-year high on Wednesday morning in a choppy morning session,
as cautiousness over an over-heating market was partially
countered by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's message
of policy flexibility.  
    The Nikkei share average opened slightly higher but
then traversed  positive and negative territories in the first
few hours of trade. At 0124 GMT, it was up 0.2 percent at
18,643.28 after peaking at 18,648.77 earlier, the highest point
since April 2000.
    A higher close would mark the sixth consecutive winning day
for the benchmark index, which is up 3.4 percent in the past
five sessions.
    Yellen told a congressional committee that the Fed is
preparing to consider rate increases "on a meeting-by-meeting
basis." While economists have been expecting a hike as soon as
June, some investors saw Yellen's comments as an indicator of a
later liftoff for the Fed's first rate hike since 2006.
    Analysts said that most investors appear to be taking the
latest Yellen comments as aligning with the Fed's dovish stance
in minutes of the last policy meeting.
    "Although the Japanese market got a slightly negative impact
from the stronger yen, the overall impact was limited," said
Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities, noting the
dollar's pullback after the Yellen comments.
    He expects profit-taking could kick in at anytime given the
Nikkei's hovering around 15-year highs.
    Banks outperformed the market after the Nikkei business
daily reported that Japan's Financial Services Agency is moving
to give bank groups the freedom to expand into e-commerce,
mobile payments and other fields beyond traditional financial
    Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group gained 0.8 percent
and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group added 0.6 percent.
    Exporters were mixed as the dollar was down 0.2 percent at
118.71 yen. A stronger yen erodes Japanese exporters'
    Toyota Motor Corp dropped 0.3 percent and Nissan
Motor Co added 0.5 percent.
    The broader Topix gained 0.2 percent to 1,510.75 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.2 percent to

 (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)