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Nikkei index breaches 29,000-mark on strong corporate earnings

Japan's blue-chip gauge up 2%; broader Topix index hits highest since 1991

An electronic board showing the Nikkei Stock Average in Tokyo on Feb. 8: Strong corporate earnings have pushed Japan's stock indexes to around 30-year highs. (Photo by Rie Ishii)

TOKYO -- Japan's benchmark Nikkei Stock Average climbed above 29,000 to its highest point in more than 30 years Monday, as investors welcomed positive earnings reports and progress around U.S. stimulus talks.

The Nikkei index surged to levels not seen since August 1990, gaining over 600 points, or 2%, to close at 29,388. Nearly 90% of the 225 companies comprising the benchmark average were up, while the broader Topix index also jumped nearly to 2%, to its highest level since June 1991.

The Tokyo market rally followed last week's gains on Wall Street. The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval to a budget plan that included President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The Nikkei index was further boosted by strong Japanese corporate earnings.

According to Okasan Securities, as of last week, more than 60% of companies in the Topix index have reported third-quarter results, recording a combined 15.9% increase in operating profit -- reversing a 14.6% drop in the second quarter. Over 300 companies, mostly in cyclical industries such as chemicals, wholesale trade and nonferrous metals, have revised their annual forecasts upward.

Steelmakers, including Kobe Steel and Nippon Steel, were among the major gainers on Monday. Both companies trimmed their annual loss forecasts amid rising demand for steel from the automotive sector. Kobe Steel's share price jumped more than 17%, while Nippon Steel climbed 10%.

Other companies that have raised their earnings outlooks, such as packaging manufacturer Toyo Seikan Group Holdings and building materials supplier Lixil Group, also saw their share prices surge.

Shares in SoftBank Group, which will announce its third-quarter earnings on Monday after the Tokyo market closes, rose over 4% as investors expected the tech investment conglomerate to extend its earnings recovery. The company also announced early Monday morning that it plans to receive a dividend from its U.K. subsidiary, SoftBank Group Capital, worth $4 billion.

Other major Asian markets also climbed on Monday, with equity indexes in Indonesia and India, as well as in mainland China, gaining around 1%. 

Investors' strong risk appetite also pushed crude oil futures up, with West Texas Intermediate futures reaching a one-year high.

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