January 17, 2020 / 3:16 AM / 2 months ago

Nikkei hits 15-month high as global demand hopes boost exporters

SINGAPORE, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Japan’s benchmark share index rose to its highest in 15 months on Friday, as hopes for rebounding global demand and a softer yen drove broad-based gains.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose half a percentage point to touch its highest level since October 2018 and has added more than 1% this year. The broader Topix was 0.4% stronger.

“When you look at Japan, you’re not just looking at Japan. Half of earnings at Japanese companies are non-Japanese, so there is a big international story,” said Jim McCafferty, Joint Head of APAC Equity Research at Nomura in Hong Kong.

“As we go into earnings season we are probably going to get guidance from a number of companies that point to a strengthening in global demand.”

The formal signing of the Sino-U.S. trade agreement on Wednesday and the recent easing of tensions in the Middle East have removed uncertainty and fired hopes for a revival in global growth and demand.

Chinese economic data released on Friday, while subdued for the year, included an unexpected jump in factory output and solid retail sales in December, suggesting the world’s second biggest economy ended the year on a firmer note.

Optimism has also pushed the safe-haven Japanese yen to an almost eight-month low - a boon for exporters. The dollar last traded at 110.23 yen, up 0.08 % during the session.

Gains were spread across all sectors of the market, with 167 advancers on the Nikkei index against 46 decliners.

Growth-exposed exporters, such as construction-equipment maker Komatsu Ltd, led manufacturing gains, rising 1.5% to a two-week high. Firms such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony also made advances.

The largest percentage gainers in the index were industrial instrument maker Yokogawa Electric Corp, up 4.32%, followed by power-supply equipment maker Fuji Electric Co Ltd , gaining 4.28 % and logistics firm Yamato Holdings Co Ltd, up 3.44%.

Financials found support, too, after Morgan Stanley overnight capped a solid set of fourth-quarter results from Wall Street’s big banks this week, boding well for their Japanese peers.

Nomura Holdings rose 1%, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group also gained. (Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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