Tokyo shares advance on Koizumi’s war apology

Tokyo stocks climbed on Friday, boosted by easing Sino-Japanese tensions following prime minister Junichiro Koizumi’s apology on Japan’s wartime actions, and strong annual results from Kao, Japan’s biggest household goods manufacturer.

The Nikkei 225 stock average rose by 0.6 per cent to 11,045.95, while the broader Topix index rose by 0.7pc to 1,130.89.

Investors were relieved after Mr Koizumi issued “heartfelt apology” for Japan’s wartime atrocities when he delivered a speech at the Asia-Africa Summit in Jakarta. The remarks were expected to ease tensions between Asia’s largest two economies. Companies with big presence in China were broadly higher.

The news from Motorola and Nokia that they were confident about future earnings fuelled optimism about Japanese technology stocks in morning trading, although the gains largely evaporated in the afternoon, underlining the uncertainty about the sector ahead of a slew of results next week.

Fanuc, the world’s largest maker of numerically controlled equipment, ended only 0.8 per cent higher at Y6,390 after initially rising by more than 2 per cent in the morning..

Oil and energy stocks also rose as oil prices, which have risen by almost $4 a barrel over the past four days, remained high.

AOC Holdings, the oil refiner, saw a 3.3 per cent share price rise to Y1,529. Nippon Oil, Japan’s largest oil distributor, rose by 2.5 per cent to Y749.

Shares at Kao, which makes toiletries, cosmetics, detergents and food products, gained 3 per cent to reach Y2,400 after it posted record net profit for the seventh straight year on Thursday. However, the company predicted slower growth in Japan’s consumer sector, to only 3 per cent this year, blaming competitive pricing in toiletry products and higher material costs. Securities ended the day 1 per cent higher at Y617,000 after its latest quarterly results showed pre-tax profit had more than doubled.

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