Nikkei holds firm as Japan PM chosen

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (BestGrowthStock) – Tokyo’s Nikkei average inched down on Friday, mostly retaining hefty gains made the previous day after Finance Minister Naoto Kan, viewed by some as a proponent of a weaker yen, was chosen as the country’s new prime minister.

But trade was light and investors were also awaiting U.S. jobs data due out later in the day, with financial markets taking some time out from European debt woes to focus on signs of recovery in the U.S. economy.

Kan had been widely seen as the front-runner for the job after former prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama — his voter support ratings in tatters — abruptly said he was resigning on Wednesday.

Financial market players said that Kan’s apparent bias toward a weaker yen would be a positive factor for the stock market, but his fiscal conservativeness might be a negative one.

Many said they were waiting for more developments, such as the make-up of the new cabinet, to gauge the new government’s stance on economic and fiscal issues.

“The market rose yesterday on the weaker yen and the possibility of Kan, and that may be the extent of its reaction. He’s better than the previous prime minister but other than that we really just have to wait and see,” said Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Daiwa SB Investments.

The benchmark Nikkei fell 13 points or 0.1 percent to 9,901.19 after gaining 3.2 percent on Thursday, its biggest one-day percentage rise since December 3.

The broader Topix dipped 0.1 percent to 890.16.

Some market players said they were watching to see if Kan would push more for a corporate tax cut.

“That may mean that sectors where the corporate tax rate eats into a high portion of sales may receive attention, such as pharmaceuticals, information technology and real estate,” said Mitsuhige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management.

The 9,900 level is a key one for the Nikkei — it was a February low and a level that has been both support and resistance in turn, several times, over the past few years.

The Nikkei slid rapidly in May, losing nearly 12 percent and touching a six-month trough around 9,400 on May 27.

The Nikkei’s MACD forged sharply upward after a bullish cross earlier this week, and the benchmark’s relative strength index was just under 44. A level of 30 or below is considered oversold.

Shares of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd gained 7 percent to 566 yen after the Nikkei business daily reported that the Subaru car maker’s operating profit in North America was expected to jump 40 percent to a record high 45 billion yen ($486 million) for the year through March 2011.

Ain Pharmaciez rose 5 percent to 3,605 yen after the drug store chain operator said that it expects annual operating profit to increase 20 percent.

The U.S. nonfarm payrolls report is forecast to show a gain of 513,000 for May, up from 290,000 in April. But most analysts said good figures were mostly factored in and that large stock moves would occur only if the figures are worse than expected.

Some 1.8 billion shares changed hands on the Tokyo bourse’s first section. Advancing shares narrowly outnumbered declining ones, by 778 to 730.

Stock Today

(Additional reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Nikkei holds firm as Japan PM chosen