Japanese stocks edged up on Thursday as investors bought futures after the yen weakened in Asian trade, while a surge in index heavyweights such as SoftBank supported sentiment. Information technology conglomerate SoftBank jumped as much as 4.5 percent to hit a near two-week high of 8,894 yen and contributed to a hefty 31 positive points to the Nikkei after Bloomberg reported that the company had built a $4 billion stake in Nvidia.
In midmorning trade, the Nikkei share average edged up 0.5 percent to 19,849.10, after opening a tad lower. The dollar rose 0.1 percent to 111.67 yen, moving towards the 120 level. The dollar was on the defensive earlier, as the currency market reacted to the Fed minutes signalling a gradual approach on raising interest rates and the reduction of its $4.5 trillion of bond holdings.
“Commodity trading advisers are seen buying Nikkei futures as dollar-yen has recovered from its lows earlier,” said Chihiro Ohta, general manager at investment research at SMBC Nikko Securities. On Wednesday, minutes from the Fed’s last policy meeting showed policymakers agreed they should hold off on raising interest rates until it was clear a recent U.S. economic slowdown was temporary, though most said a hike was coming soon.
Thursday’s gainers were domestic-demand sensitive sectors, with the utility sector rising 1.2 percent, the real estate sector adding 1.0 percent and the land transport sector gaining 0.9 percent. Chubu Electric Power Co gained 1.4 percent, Mitsubishi Estate Co advanced 1.3 percent and East Japan Railway Co added 0.8 percent.
Underperforming the market were financial stocks, after U.S. bond yields fell. Banks and insurers lost ground. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group shed 0.3 percent, Mizuho Financial Group declined 0.4 percent and Dai-ichi Life Holdings dropped 0.8 percent. The broader Topix rose 0.4 percent to 1,581.84 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.5 percent to 14,115.76.