Nikkei climbs almost 3 percent as resource shares jump

By Masayuki Kitano

TOKYO (BestGrowthStock) – Japan’s Nikkei average surged 2.7 percent on Wednesday, chalking up its biggest daily rise in over two months, as investors snapped up Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T: ) and other resource-related stocks after a jump in commodities prices.

Tokyo shares were cheered by the previous day’s sharp gains in European and U.S. shares, with robust earnings and stronger-than-expected data providing a lift.

Market players said Tokyo shares also drew comfort from a nearly 2 percent rise in Hong Kong equities (.HSI: ) as the market reopened after a Lunar New Year holiday, with investors shrugging off China’s surprise decision late last week to increase bank reserve requirements.

Resource-related shares were among the strongest gainers after oil and other commodities rallied on Tuesday on the back of a decline in the dollar.

Despite the size of the Nikkei’s jump, trading volume was near the lowest so far this year, suggesting there was not much conviction behind the bounce, market players said.

“Today’s rise is probably mostly due to short-covering by short-term players, judging from the trading activity,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, a strategist at Okasan Securities’ investment strategy department, referring to the low volumes.

“It seems more like buybacks rather than any aggressive buying,” Ishiguro said.

The Nikkei (.N225: ) rose 272.58 points to 10,306.83 and logged its biggest one-day percentage gain since December 3. Even after Wednesday’s rise, the benchmark index is still down 6 percent from a peak hit in mid-January.

The broader Topix index climbed 2.2 percent to 904.63 (.TOPX: ).

Trading volume was sparse, with roughly 1.8 billion shares changing hands on the Tokyo exchange’s first section, among the lowest daily volumes this year.

Advancing shares outnumbered declining ones by nearly 8 to 1.

“There’s a bit more of a shift to riskier assets, especially those linked to commodities, and this may continue for a day or two, though we need some kind of new incentive to break above 10,500,” said Tomomi Yamashita, a fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management.

Drugmaker Merck & Co (MRK.N: ) posted quarterly revenue that beat analysts’ estimates, which market players said added to confidence that the U.S. economic recovery is on solid footing.

Also helping sentiment, the New York Federal Reserve’s gauge of manufacturing in New York state rose more than expected in February, climbing to its highest level since October, as inventories jumped.

Shares of iron and steel makers surged after metal prices rallied broadly on Tuesday, with nickel prices jumping about 5 percent to a six-month high.

Ferronickel maker Pacific Metals Co Ltd (5541.T: ) climbed 8 percent to 660 yen.

Nippon Steel Corp (5401.T: ), Japan’s biggest steel maker, rose 4.4 percent to 332 yen, while second-ranked JFE Holdings (5411.T: ) gained 5.3 percent to 3,260 yen.

Among trading houses, Mitsubishi climbed 3.4 percent to 2,279 yen.

Stock Market Today

(Additional reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Nikkei climbs almost 3 percent as resource shares jump