February 25, 2014 3:29 pm JST

Nikkei ends above 15,000 for 1st time in month

TOKYO (Kyodo) --  Tokyo stocks advanced Tuesday, with the Nikkei ending above the 15,000 threshold for the first time in about a month on the back of buoyant U.S. and European shares.

     The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 213.92 points, or 1.44 percent, from Monday at 15,051.6. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 14.59 points, or 1.2 percent, higher at 1,233.66.

     Brokers said overnight rises in U.S. and European stocks encouraged investors to scoop up recently battered shares while the U.S. dollar's modest rise to the mid-102 yen range also supported the market, especially export-linked and high-tech companies.

     The FTSE 100 index on the London Stock Exchange finished Monday at its highest level in 14 years and two months while the U.S. tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index climbed to its highest level in 13 years and 10 months.

     "(Japanese) shares have been sluggish over the past month with the Nikkei moving below 15,000...but with U.S. and European stock indexes at historically high levels, Japanese shares shouldn't stay weak," said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc.

     The Nikkei recovered the 15,000 line at the outset of the day's trading. Although it fell below the line temporarily, it ended above the threshold for the first time since Jan. 30.

     Masashi Akutsu, equity strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said overnight rises in U.S. and European shares worked as a "catalyst" to prompt a rebound on the Tokyo bourse as they came at a time when the domestic stocks "looked increasingly undervalued."

     He said it has become easier for domestic shares to rebound, given calm returning to emerging economies' currencies and generally better-than-expected Japanese corporate earnings results for the October to December quarter.

     Market sentiment was also lifted by reports that the United States is ready to provide Ukraine with financial assistance to complement aid from the International Monetary Fund in the aftermath of the ouster of Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovich, brokers said.

     Softbank was the top contributor to the Nikkei's rise, gaining 321 yen, or 4.1 percent, to 8,095 yen in response to Bloomberg's report that the company is seeking to buy a stake in Line Corp., the mobile-messaging service controlled by South Korea's Naver Corp.

     Among export-oriented firms, Canon gained 43 yen, or 1.4 percent, to 3,179 yen and Panasonic went up 6 yen, or 0.5 percent, to 1,196 yen.

     Toyota Motor rose 66 yen, or 1.1 percent, to 5,990 yen and Honda Motor added 30 yen, or 0.8 percent, to 3,710 yen.

     Plant engineering company Chiyoda attracted buying, ending up 47 yen, or 3.1 percent, to 1,572 yen, after saying a business consortium including its group company Chiyoda International Indonesia has won an order to construct a floating production unit for gas in Indonesia.

     In contrast, movie distributor Shochiku fell 19 yen, or 2.1 percent, to 897 yen after cutting its group net profit projection for the current fiscal year by 52 percent.

     Most sectors advanced, with major gainers including information and communication, oil and coal, land transport and service shares.

     Advancing issues outpaced declining ones 1,441 to 250 on the First Section, while 89 closed unchanged.

     Trading volume on the main section came to 2,041.66 million shares, down from Monday's 2,329.39 million shares.