Tokyo investors eye more BoJ easing next week

March 07, 2014 - 1:16:45 pm

TOKYO: Tokyo investors will be keeping a close eye on next week's Bank of Japan (BoJ) policy meeting for further monetary easing measures, as speculation over policy moves helped lift the market to a fresh five-week high on Friday.

The Nikkei-225 index, which jumped 1.59 percent to a five-week high on Thursday, added another 139.32 points to finish at 15,274.07, rising 2.9 percent on the week.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares rose 0.70 percent, or 8.61 points, to 1,236.97, adding 2.1 percent this week. 

The market got a boost from a weakening yen, which is good for Japanese exporters' profitability as the dollar broke through the 103-yen mark for the first time since mid-January.

BoJ easing speculation tends to push down the yen, while fears over the Ukraine crisis subsided, boosting investor sentiment along with appetite for riskier assets, said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.

"There is a shift back to risk-on trade and Japan stocks still lag their peers," he added.

Investors have been betting that an April sales tax hike in Japan could force the BoJ to act to counter a drop in consumer spending.

The bank last year unveiled an unprecedented policy blitz similar to the US Federal Reserve's quantitative easing, as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's broader bid to stoke the world's third-largest economy.

In the US, jobless benefits claims fell last week to their lowest level in three months, prompting upbeat expectations for non-farm payrolls data later Friday.

Real estate shares, a prime beneficiary of BoJ easing rose with Mitsui Fudosan gaining 1.18 percent to 3,329 yen and Mitsubishi Estate up 0.88 percent at 2,610 yen.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone gained 0.79 percent to 5,940 yen after it bought back about $1.5 billion of its own shares from the government.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.17 percent to a record high while the Dow was