Nikkei firms as output data fans optimism for recovery

jueves 26 de febrero de 2015 22:26 GYT
 

* Industrial output beats strong expectations
    * Nikkei could make biggest monthly gains since Nov 2013
    * Financial shares leading gains, Orix up

    By Hideyuki Sano
    TOKYO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Tokyo share prices hit a fresh
15-year high on Friday on upbeat Japanese industrial output
data, while the market awaited an announcement from the
country's biggest pension fund on its latest asset allocations.
    The Nikkei share average rose 0.3 percent to
18,834.89. On the month, it is up 6.6 percent so far, which if
sustained, would be the biggest monthly gain since November
2013.
    Signs of recovery in exports and outputs, expectations that
cheap oil prices will benefit Japanese consumption and companies
and hopes of more corporate reforms have been all helping the
market.
    "It seems like there is no reason to sell other than to take
profits," said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex
Securities.
    Japan's industrial output rose 4.0 percent in January from
the previous month, surpassing already strong expectations of
2.7 percent growth. 
    But other data showed Japanese households cut spending more
than expected and retail sales for the first time in seven
months, highlighting the uneven nature of the economic recovery.
    Long-battered financial shares have been leading the
market's gains this month, partly helped by rising Japanese bond
yields, which is expected to help boost interest they earn on
lending.
    Bank shares have surged 16.8 percent so far in
February, on course to score its biggest monthly gains since
April 2008. 
    On Friday, they were up just 0.1 percent as they were capped
by profit-taking. 
    Non-bank lenders gained 2.3 percent on the day,
having gained 18.6 percent in February, the largest rise in al
most a year and a half.
    Among them, Orix rose 3.4 percent as it was helped
by credit upgrade by Moody's and a new shareholder hospitality
programme that could attract more retail investors.
    Nexon rose 7.9 percent after it the online game
maker announced a share buyback plan.
    The market is now focusing on the release later in the day
of the $1.1 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund's (GPIF)
asset allocation as of end-December.
    The fund announced in October a plan to boost its domestic
holdings to 25 percent of the total, from its previous target of
12 percent, but did not specify a timeframe.
    "That should give us a greater understanding of the progress
they are making towards the new targets that they introduced
last year. It will clarify a bit about how much more they may
buy and how much they have contributed to this rally as well,"
said Stefan Worrall, director of equity cash sales at Credit
Suisse. 
    The broader Topix gained 0.2 percent and the
JPX-Nikkei Index 400 rose 0.3 percent.
    

 (Additional reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Kim Coghill)