June 18, 2014 11:55 am JST

Tokyo stocks rise in morning on expected yen weakness, Wall St. gains

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo stocks rose Wednesday morning supported by expectations of a weaker yen amid Japan's continuing trade deficit and by overnight gains on Wall Street.

     The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 63.08 points, or 0.42 percent, from Tuesday to end the morning session at 15,039.05. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 5.24 points, or 0.42 percent, at 1,243.44.

     Tokyo stocks drew buying from the outset of the morning session, with the Nikkei average recovering the psychologically important 15,000 threshold.

     "Some investors thought the continuing trade deficit shown in a government report released before the opening could be a cue to sell the yen," said Hiroaki Hiwada, strategist at Toyo Securities Co.

     The Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report that Japan's trade deficit stood at 909.0 billion yen last month, marking the 23rd straight month of red ink.

     The market was also underpinned by overnight rises in U.S. stocks thanks to a larger-than-expected rise in U.S. consumer prices for May, brokers said.

     On the First Section, advancing issues outnumbered declining ones 1,002 to 610, while 199 finished the morning unchanged.

     Shares of exporters, such as automakers and high-tech firms, fared well due to the relatively weaker yen, with Nissan Motor increasing 5 yen, or 0.5 percent, to 962 yen and Panasonic advancing 35 yen, or 2.9 percent, to 1,227 yen.

     Other major gainers included brokerage, bank and communication shares.

     Tsuruha Holdings gained 270 yen, or 5.2 percent, to 5,450 yen on the drugstore operator's announcement on Tuesday that its group net profit in the business year through May 2015 is projected to jump 13.8 percent from the previous year to 16.57 billion yen.

     In contrast, Dai-ichi Life Insurance fell 20 yen, or 1.3 percent, to 1,494 yen after the Nikkei business daily reported its President Koichiro Watanabe showed his willingness in an interview to continue mergers and acquisitions overseas following the purchase of mid-ranking U.S. life insurer Protective Life Corp.

     The possibility of further M&As raised investor concerns about share dilution due to new share issues to secure necessary funds, brokers said.