The stock market in Japan ended higher on Thursday, on speculation that concerted efforts initiated by the central banks as well as governments will succeed in pulling out the global economy out of recession sooner-than-expected. Positive data from the U.S. related to durable-goods orders and new home sales and higher closing in Wall Street on Wednesday further raised speculation that the global economy might have bottomed out. Buying interest is evident in the markets as pessimism gives way for faint hope as Nikkei 225 Index gained more than 22% since reaching the 26-year low earlier in the month.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose 156.34 points or 1.8% to 8,636, and the broader Topix Index of all the First Section issues gained 1% or 8.32 points to 827. The market, after opening weaker and sliding down on profit taking, recovered in mid-morning trades, continued to trade in a narrow range in afternoon and surged in the last hour to close near the day's high on strong buying interest from investors.
On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said that corporate service prices in Japan were down 2.6% year-over-year in February. Forecasts called for a 2.5% year-over-year drop after the 2.2% annual decline in January. On a monthly basis, corporate service prices inched higher by 0.2%.
Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry reported that foreign residents sold 624.1 billion yen more in Japan stocks than they purchased for the week ending March 21. However, foreigners purchased a net 511.9 billion yen in Japan bonds and notes. Meanwhile, residents of Japan were purchasers of a net 6.1 billion yen or foreign stocks for the week. They also bought more foreign bonds and notes than they sold in the week, having purchased a net 247.2 billion yen worth.
Among banking stocks, Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, rose 1.50%, and Sumitomo Mitsui advanced 2.06%. However, Resona Holdings lost 1.38% on profit taking.
Shares of Mizuho Financial declined 1.29%. The Nikkei business daily reported that Mizuho Corporate Bank, an affiliate of Mizuho Financial Group, has sold about 1 billion yen of its shareholdings to the Bank of Japan after the central bank resumed its initiative to buy bank-held shares late last month.
Exporters moved up on the back of a weaker yen. Sony Corp. surged 9.40%, Canon advanced 3.49%, and Sharp gained 1.82%.
Among technology stocks, manufacturer of silicon wafers, Sumco Corp. gained 8.03% and Advantest Corp. moved up 3.98%.
Oil-related stocks were mixed. While Showa Shell rose 3.44% and Inpex gained 0.42%, Nippon Oil lost 0.38%. Among trading houses, Mitsubishi Corp. declined 1.38% and Sumitomo Corp. lost 0.32%. However, Itochu gained 1.35%.
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