Nikkei gains 0.5 percent on metal stocks

By Aiko Hayashi

TOKYO (BestGrowthStock) – Japan’s Nikkei average rose 0.5 percent on Monday, with metal shares such as Sumitomo Metal Mining Co (5713.T: ) climbing on a jump in copper prices after a massive earthquake hit Chile, the world’s No. 1 copper producer.

Japan’s three biggest banks, including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (8306.T: ), rose after JP Morgan upgraded them to “overweight,” citing bank stocks’ historical tendency to rally in spring and decreasing risks to their earnings.

“Today’s gains are a slight rebound from the weakness that we saw late last week,” said Junichi Misawa, a senior fund manager at STB Asset Management.

“The market is still locked in a tight range a little above 10,000 and isn’t really pointing to a specific direction.”

In light trade, the benchmark Nikkei (.N225: ) gained 46.03 points to 10,172.06, after rising 0.2 percent on Friday.

The index was almost unchanged on the week last week, while it shed 0.7 percent for the month of February.

The broader Topix (.TOPX: ) added 0.5 percent to 898.93.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) rose 0.1 percent on Friday, after data showing the U.S. economy grew slightly more than initially thought in the fourth quarter. (.N: )

Copper futures jumped to their highest in more than five weeks on Monday after the massive earthquake in Chile sparked supply worries but the market pared early gains of 5 percent.

The temblor killed more than 700 people as it toppled buildings, knocked down the country’s infrastructure and triggered tsunami waves hitting Pacific coastlines as far as Japan and the Russian far east.

“There may be a view in the market that resources will be bought after Chile’s quake, but given worries about economic growth in Europe, gains in the price of resources will likely be limited,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, manager at SMBC Friend Securities.

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Sumitomo Metal Mining Co (5713.T: ), Japan’s second-largest copper smelter, rose 1.1 percent to 1,276 yen, while Dowa Holdings (5714.T: ) gained 1.8 percent to 511 yen. Mitsui Mining & Smelting (5706.T: ) advanced 1.6 percent to 248 yen.

Trading firm Mitsui & Co (8031.T: ) climbed 2.1 percent to 1,408 yen.

Still, Japan’s major copper smelters said on Monday they have yet to assess the impact on their copper production from the earthquake.

Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s top lender, rose 1.6 percent to 456 yen, while Mizuho Financial Group (8411.T: ) gained 2.9 percent to 177 yen and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (8316.T: ) climbed 1.1 percent to 2,888 yen.

Exporters were mixed as the dollar gained some ground against the yen. The greenback was trading around 89.10, after slipping below 89 yen earlier.

Canon Inc (7751.T: ) rose 1.2 percent to 3,740 yen and industrial robot maker Fanuc Ltd (6954.T: ) added 0.6 percent to 8,730 yen. But Advantest Corp (6857.T: ) fell 0.6 percent to 2,099 yen.

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: ) fell 1.1 percent to 3,295 yen, after news that a U.S. congressional panel has found evidence Toyota routinely withheld company records it should have turned over in court and settled personal injury cases to avoid revealing key engineering data dubbed the “Books of Knowledge.”

Separately, Toyota’s president plans a news conference in Beijing on Monday as the automaker looks to limit the damage from a massive global recall on the fast-growing Chinese market.

Some 1.5 billion shares changed hands on the Tokyo Exchange’s first section, well below last year’s daily average of 2.3 billion shares.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones by more than 2 to 1.

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(Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Nikkei gains 0.5 percent on metal stocks