Tokyo stocks staged a late rally on Thursday to record a sixth successive day of gains, its best performance since January 2001, thanks to gains for technology stocks.
The Nikkei finished 0.4 per cent stronger at 11,856.46 and the broad-based Topix rose 0.3 per cent at 1,189.52, with both indices at fresh eight-month highs. About 1.9bn shares exchanged hands.
Oil stocks were firmer as the price of crude rose above $53 a barrel in US trading. AOC Holdings, the exploration company, was 1.4 per cent stronger at Y1,641, Cosmo Oil added 0.3 per cent to Y350 and Teikoku Oil rose 0.6 per cent to Y795.
Technology stocks gained on optimism over corporate earnings. Matsushita Electric was up 1 per cent at Y1,567, Toshiba gained 0.9 per cent at Y471 and Kyocera rose 0.9 per cent to Y7,980.
Banking stocks remained in demand, with Mizuho Financial sporting a 0.6 per cent gain at Y511,000 and SMFG 1.5 per cent firmer at Y743,000.
Shares of steelmakers were lower, despite several companies upgrading their profit forecasts, as investors feared that the bumper earnings the sector is set to announce at the start of April would mark a high-point for the shares.
JFE Holdings lost 1.3 per cent to Y3,160, while Nippon Steel lost 0.7 per cent to Y285. Although Nisshin Steel went up 0.4 per cent at Y289, and Sumitomo Metal Industries were 1.1 per cent stronger at Y186, both stocks finished well off their session highs.
Fuji Heavy Industries, maker of the Subaru car, rose 3.8 per cent to Y514 after Credit Suisse First Boston initiated coverage with a “outperform” rating and set a price target of Y630.
Fast Retailing was down 0.2 per cent at Y6,730 as the owner of Uniqlo became the latest retailer to lower its full-year results forecast. Japan‘s largest casual fashions chain said full-year results would be slightly lower owing to sluggish sales in February.
Ito-Yokado and Aeon have both already guided market expectations lower.
Kikkoman, the world‘s largest soy sauce maker, was down 1.4 per cent at Y1,089 on reports it may miss full-year earnings targets because of weak sales.