Nikkei edges up, BOJ's ETF buying helps sentiment

miércoles 4 de marzo de 2015 22:28 GYT

* BOJ's ETF buying supports mood - analysts
    * Drugmakers outperform on strong U.S. healthcare shares
    * Rakuten falls after Goldman cuts rating

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
edged up on Thursday after the central bank bought more
exchange-traded funds, but gains were limited by investor
caution ahead of U.S. jobs data on Friday.
    The Nikkei opened lower, but rose 0.2 percent to
18,742.97 by mid-morning, not far from its 15-year high of
    Analysts said investors were looking to U.S. job and wage
data on Friday for further clues on when the Federal Reserve may
raise interest rates.
    But they also said that sentiment was supported by the
central bank's move on Tuesday and Wednesday to purchase 35.2
billion yen ($293.90 million) of exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
each day, the first time in three weeks.
    "People expect that the BOJ will support the market by
buying ETFs when the market is weak in the morning," said
Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi
UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
    Healthcare stocks, which outperformed in the U.S. market on
the previous day, lifted some Japanese drugmakers.
    Ono Pharmaceutical Co, which co-develops cancer
treatment drug Opdivo with Bristol Myers Squibb, jumped
8 percent after U.S. health regulators approved the drug for
lung cancer.
    The pharmaceutical sector gained 2.3 percent and
was the second biggest gainer among 33 Topix's subsectors.
    Other drugmakers also got a lift from strong performances in
U.S. healthcare shares while retail investors are attracted to
their high dividend yields, analysts said. The drugmakers'
dividend yield stood at 1.99 percent, compared with the Nikkei's
1.38 percent.
    Takeda Pharmaceutical Co gained 2.2 percent. Eisai
Co jumped 5.4 percent after it and Merck announced a
clinical trial collaboration to explore combination regimens of
Anti-PD-1 therapy. 
    Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp 
falling 0.4 percent and Honda Motor Co gained 0.3
    Bucking the trend, Rakuten Inc dropped 1.3 percent
after Goldman Sachs cut its rating to 'neutral' from 'buy,'
saying that positive factors such as margin improvement in the
financial business were already priced into its shares.
    The broader Topix rose 0.3 percent to 1,521.98 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.4 percent to

($1 = 119.7700 yen)

 (Editing by Kim Coghill)