TOKYO (AFP) – Tokyo stocks ended slightly higher Friday after a quiet week with many investors away for the Christmas holidays, but market watchers were upbeat as the Nikkei sits at multi-year highs.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange is open for business on Monday and Tuesday before shutting until January 5, the first trading day of 2015.
Analysts pointed to strong performances on Wall Street, falling oil prices, an expected Japanese government stimulus package, and the latest round of Bank of Japan monetary easing which sharply weakened the yen, boosting shares of Japanese exporters.
While Japan’s economic recovery stumbled after a sales tax rise in April, there are positive signs on the horizon, said Shigeo Sugawara, senior investment officer at Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Asset Management.
“The virtuous cycle of improving corporate earnings, wage rises, and stronger spending is starting,” he said.
“It’s just the pace and the strength (that) is underwhelming,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.
Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of the equity division at SMBC Nikko Securities, also predicted healthy gains in 2015, saying that “I’m anticipating stocks to rebound after they struggled for some time”.
On Friday, the Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange edged up 0.06 per cent, or 10.21 points, to finish at 17,818.96, logging a weekly gain of 1.12 per cent.
The Nikkei is up more than nine per cent this year.
The broader Topix index of all first-section shares rose 0.44 per cent, or 6.24 points, on Friday to end at 1,427.50. It added 1.27 per cent over the week.
Earlier Friday, the market largely shrugged off a barrage of fresh Japanese data that provided further evidence of slowdown in the world’s number three economy.
Japan’s industrial output suffered a surprise drop in November, turning down after two months of rises.
Meanwhile, Japanese core inflation rate continued to slow in November, dealing another challenge to Tokyo and the Japanese central bank’s battle to conquer years of deflation.
European and US stocks markets were closed Thursday for the Christmas holiday, while financial markets in Hong Kong and Australia were among those in Asia-Pacific closed on Friday.
In Friday Tokyo stocks trade, Honda fell 1.12 per cent to 3,620 yen after media reports said the automaker would likely put off the January launch of a luxury sedan due to additional safety system checks.
Honda is among the automakers hardest hit by the recall of millions of vehicles over defective airbags, made by auto parts giant Takata, which have been linked to at least five deaths.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group was up 0.68 per cent at 4,435.5 yen after Citigroup said Thursday it was selling its century-old Japanese retail banking operations to the Japanese group’s trust banking unit.