Nikkei surges to new 8-year high on weak yen

Asian markets enjoyed a higher open on Wednesday, with Tokyo shares at a fresh eight-year high, following a positive lead from Wall Street overnight. However, trading volumes will likely be light ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, with markets in China, Taiwan and South Korea shuttered. Singapore and Malaysia will be open for a half day. Overnight, U.S. stocks finished at highs, supported by encouraging reports out of Europe.

Greece intends to ask for an extension of its loan agreement with the euro zone on Wednesday, a source in Brussels said, distinguishing this from the country’s full bailout program. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Global Indexes: .DJI) and S&P 500 (^GSPC) both closed up 0.2 percent, with the latter hitting its second record close for the year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) added 0.1 percent.

Nikkei rises 0.8% Japan’s Nikkei 225 index hit a fresh 8-year high of 18,137 in a broad-based rally, supported by the yen weakening to 119.1 against the dollar, compared with Tuesday’s close of 118.4. Japanese shares had tapped an eight-year high of 18,004.77 – its highest since July 2007 – on Monday, but drifted lower in Tuesday’s session due to a stronger currency. Exporter stocks got a boost, with Sony (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 6758.T-JP) and Mitsubishi Electric (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 6503.T-JP) leading gains among blue-chips, rising more than 2 percent each. The former is due to deliver a new roadmap plan later this afternoon. Electronics players Nikon (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 7731.T-JP) and Panasonic (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 6752.T-JP) jumped 3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) is set to announce its policy decision later in the session. “Going forward, I think the BOJ needs to announce some additional measures, either buying more JGBs, ETFs, J-Reits or asset-backed securities. The BOJ will likely announce these measures, but the timing is uncertain with falling oil prices and a LDP presidential election in September,” Daisuke Nomoto, senior portfolio manager at Columbia Management Investment Advisers, told CNBC’s ” The Rundown .” Read More Singapore to unveil a ‘people’s budget’ next week ASX adds 0.3% Australia’s benchmark S&P ASX 200 index edged up in early trade, staying in sight of a seven-year high, thanks to a 47.7 percent surge in Toll Holdings (ASX:TOL-AU). Shares of the country’s largest freight and logistics firm got a boost after accepting a $ 5.1 billion takeover offer from Japan Post Holdings early Wednesday. A slew of company earnings continued to sway markets. Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL-AU) bounced 2.6 percent as its full-year profit jumped 38 percent, but a 22 percent rise in first-half profit failed to boost gold miner Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN-AU), which lost 0.5 percent. However, steep losses in Insurance Group Australia and Primary Health Care capped gains. IAG tanked 7.4 percent after announcing a 10 percent fall in first-half profit as competition in the industry intensified, while the medical center operator slumped more than 5 percent after delivering a modest 6.2 percent increase in first-half profit.

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