Nikkei posts biggest day in a month on Toyota pay rise hopes, futures-related buying

jueves 12 de marzo de 2015 02:22 GYT
 

* Toyota's pay increase expectations lift mood - analysts
    * Foreign investors chase futures market higher - analysts

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
posted its biggest daily gain in a month on Thursday as
investors chased the market higher before the futures
settlement, while hopes that Toyota Motor Corp may
increase pay also lifted sentiment.
    The Nikkei ended 1.4 percent higher at 18,991.11, a
fresh 15-year closing high. In early afternoon trade, it touched
as high as 19,008.13. 
    Index-heavy stocks led the gains, with Fast Retailing Co
 rising 1.3 percent and Fanuc Corp adding 2.3
percent. The two companies together contributed a hefty 44.5
points to the Nikkei.
    Media reports saying that Toyota is ready to agree to its
most generous pay increase ever lifted investors' risk appetite,
analysts said. Wage increases are a vital component in the
government's strategy to spur more consumer spending and help
pull the economy out of decades of deflation.
    "If a big company like Toyota decides to increase pay, other
automakers and more companies may follow suit," said Fujio Ando,
senior managing director at Chibagin Securities. "Given that
there is no tax hike this year, it should help consumption
rise."
    The Toyota Motor Workers' Union has sought a 6,000 yen hike
for 2015, and the Nikkei business daily reported that Toyota is
leaning toward a 3,700 yen step up in monthly base pay on top of
the automatic increases in compensation. 
    Toyota shares rose 1.2 percent.
    Traders were also positioning for Friday's settlement for
Nikkei futures and options contracts expiring in March, analysts
said.
    The closely watched settlement price, known in Japan as the
special quotation, or "SQ", is calculated from the opening
prices of the 225 shares in the Nikkei average on the second
Friday of the month.
    "Foreign derivatives investors are seen chasing the market
higher," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at
Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
    "Those who have long positions in the Nikkei futures are
playing the 'SQ game'. They hope the futures to settle at a
higher price."
    Analysts added that receding geopolitical concerns also
lifted investors' risk appetite.
    Overnight, European shares rebounded, while the
International Monetary Fund agreed to pump $10 billion into
Ukraine's troubled economy over the next year. 
    Thirty-one of the Topix's 33 subsectors were in positive
territory.
    The broader Topix gained 1.4 percent to 1,546.63 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 1.4 percent to
14,059.84.

 (Editing by Kim Coghill)