Nikkei rises to fresh 15-year high as Fed continues to support mood

miércoles 25 de febrero de 2015 22:20 GYT
 

* Pension fund investment strategy also lifts sentiment -
analysts
    * SoftBank, Fast Retailing contribute half Nikkei gains

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose
to a fresh 15-year high on Thursday morning after hedge funds
were seen buying futures, while index-heavyweight stocks rose as
investors' risk appetite improved on benign comments by Fed
Chair Janet Yellen.
    The Nikkei rose 0.4 percent to 18,662.66 in
mid-morning trade after rising as high as 18,694.74 earlier, the
highest since April 2000.
    Analysts say that investors have become more risk-taking
since Yellen's congressional testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday
hinted the Fed is in no rush to raise rates. 
    "It's mainly derivatives... hedge funds are seen covering
their short positions from their selling in early January and
even started piling up new long positions," said Norihiro
Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan
Stanley Securities.
    Market watchers said sentiment was also lifted by news that
the Federation of National Public Service Personnel Mutual Aid
Associations, the body managing Japan's national civil service
pensions, will raise its target allocation for domestic stocks
to 25 percent from 8 percent.
    Also known by the acronym KKR, the pension fund will slash
the weighting of Japanese bonds in its portfolio to 35 percent
from 74 percent.
    "This officially-announced drastic investment strategy is
giving renewed excitement to the market," said Shigemitsu
Tsuruta, senior strategist at SMBC Friend Securities.
    Index-heavyweight stocks outperformed, with SoftBank Corp
 rising 1.8 percent and Fast Retailing Co 
advancing 1.3 percent. The two companies together drove up the
Nikkei 37 points, nearly half the index's point gains.
    Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp 
falling 0.2 percent and Honda Motor Co rising 0.8
percent.
    Bucking the strength, Renesas Easton Co dropped 4.0
percent to a three-week low after the semiconductor trader said
it will issue 1.98 million of shares through a public offering.
 
    The broader Topix gained 0.2 percent to 1,510.87 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.2 percent to
13,693.33.