Nikkei rises to fresh 15-year high on ECB; FamilyMart falls on merger talks

jueves 5 de marzo de 2015 22:16 GYT
 

* FamilyMart falls, UNY rises on merger talk news
    * Nikkei may reach 19,400 at the end of the month - analyst
    * Nikkei heads for 4 straight week of gains

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 6 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose
to a fresh 15-year high on Friday as encouraging comments from
the European Central Bank lifted sentiment, but FamilyMart Co
 tumbled on news that it was in merger talks with UNY
Group Holdings Co.
    The Nikkei gained 1.1 percent to 18,965.86 points by
midmorning, its highest since April 2000. For the week, it has
gained 0.8 percent, heading for a fourth consecutive week of
gains. 
    The ECB raised growth and inflation targets and announced it
would start its government bond-buying program of 60 billion
euros a month on March 9. 
    Investors were awaiting U.S. job data later in the day.
Analysts polled by Reuters expect U.S. payrolls to have
increased 240,000 last month and the jobless rate to have ticked
down to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent.
    "Today's gains are mainly from good news from Europe, but
the rising trend in the Nikkei will likely continue into next
week on domestic catalysts, too," said Shigemitsu Tsuruta, a
senior strategist at SMBC Friend Securities, adding that
investors are hopeful that Japan's consumption and capital
spending are recovering.
    He also said that investors are focused on domestic economic
indicators' releases next week such as machinery data.
    Tsuruta expects the Nikkei to rise as high as 19,400 by the
end of March.
    A weaker yen also bolstered overall market sentiment, and
lifted such index-heavy stocks as Fast Retailing Co and
exporters including Honda Motor Co, rising 1.65 percent
and 1.3 percent, respectively.
    FamilyMart dropped 3.5 percent, while UNY soared as much as
11 percent to a 2-1/2-week high in heavy trade on news that they
are in discussions as both companies consider various tie-up
options, including mergers, with other firms. 
    Concerns about UNY's struggling general merchandise store
business were weighing on FamilyMart shares, traders said.
    The broader Topix rose 0.6 percent to 1,532.24 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.5 percent to
13,918.31.

 (Editing by Kim Coghill)