May 9, 2014 3:32 pm JST

Tokyo stocks end up on solid earnings, U.S. economic optimism

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo stocks ended modestly higher Friday, supported by gains in shares of companies providing good earnings results or guidance, as well as optimism over the course of the U.S. economy following upbeat employment data.
     The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 35.81 points, or 0.25 percent, from Thursday at 14,199.59. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 5.50 points, or 0.47 percent, higher at 1,165.51.
     The market opened lower, weighed on by losses in some export-oriented issues, as the euro fell into the 140 yen range after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi hinted the bank could take additional monetary easing step in June to battle low inflation.
     But once an initial round of selling ran its course, the Nikkei found resistance before falling below the psychologically important 14,000 line.
     The market drew support from the U.S. 30-issue Dow Jones Industrial Average's gain overnight as a bigger-than-expected fall in U.S. weekly jobless claims brightened sentiment toward the world's largest economy, brokers said.
     Toyota Motor shares' solid performance also helped buoy the market's mood. The shares initially faced selling, falling as much as 2 percent at one point, after the automaker provided conservative earnings projections for the current business year that started in April, but they later bounced back to finish the day 33 yen, or 0.6 percent, higher at 5,561 yen.
     "Toyota's earnings projection for this business year was so cautious and there was a concern its shares could be dumped on disappointment. But the stock bounced back, and it brightened market sentiment," Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc., said.
     As for the U.S. economy, Masashi Akutsu, equity strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said, "It has become clear that a spate of weak U.S. economic data early this year were due to severe winter weather." But the market remained top heavy, reflecting the yen's recent appreciation against the dollar and the euro, he added.
     A tepid performance for Chinese shares following a smaller-than-expected rise in the country's consumer price index in April also capped Tokyo shares' upside, brokers said.
     GS Yuasa climbed 4 yen, or 0.7 percent, to 578 yen after reporting record-high sales for fiscal 2013 on brisk demand for lithium ion batteries for vehicles.
     Toppan Printing climbed 27 yen, or 3.9 percent, to 724 yen after reporting an 11 percent rise in its group net profit for fiscal 2013.
     Canon gained 60 yen, or 1.9 percent, to 3,252 yen after announcing a share buyback plan.
     But Takeda Pharmaceutical lost 85 yen, or 1.8 percent, to 4,552 yen after saying its group net profit is expected to fall 20 percent in fiscal 2014.
     Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones 1,053 to 608 on the First Section, while 149 closed unchanged.
     By sector, major gainers included land transport, nonferrous metal and machinery issues, while oil and coal, brokerage and textile issues skidded.
     Trading volume on the main section came to 1,945.39 million shares, compared with Thursday's 1,785.72 million shares.