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Market Update

Nikkei Rallies in Quiet Asian Session

Japanese markets rallied on Tuesday as the yen hit fresh lows against the dollar after comments by various officials raised hopes of further monetary easing.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei Index, which remained closed yesterday for a public holiday, jumped close to a 33-month high, even as the yen fell sharply against the dollar and euro. The Nikkei was trading up 2.3% at 1:21 p.m. Tokyo time.

The Japanese currency dropped as low as 94.42 against the greenback, which is its lowest since May 2010. 

These moves were spurred by comments by Haruhiko Kuroda, president of Asian Development Bank.  Kuroda, who is likely to take over as the Bank of Japan governor next month, said he was in favour of an aggressive two-year timeframe to lift inflation to 2%.

Separately, U.S. Treasury official Lael Brainard said his country would support Japan's efforts to end deflation and stimulate growth.

Futher adding to the optimism, Japan's economics minister Akira Amira said he would like to see policy steps that would help boost stock prices.

Across other markets, however, trading was listless as bourses in mainland China and Hong Kong remained closed for the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The Sensex gained 0.2% while the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries added 0.2%.

Stocks on the move

In Tokyo, the yen's slide boosted demand for exporters. Toshiba Corp. rose 3%, Tokyo Electron Ltd. jumped 3.5% and Canon Inc. gained 2.6%.

Auto makers, however, were on the losers' side -- Nissan Motor Co. dropped over 4% after reporting disappointing quarterly figures. Mazda Motor also declined 4.5%.

But financials were trading with smart gains. Mizuho Financial Group gained around 4.5% and brokerage house Nomura Holdings rallied over 4%.

Resources and retailers supported with modest gains too. J. Front Retailing Co. gained 4.5% while Fast Retailing added 3.3%. Steelmaker Kobe Steel improved 2.9% while oil giant Japan Petroleum rose over 2%.

In Mumbai, stocks shed initial wariness and picked up momentum with oil & gas firm ONGC leading the field, up 2.7% after its third-quarter profits topped Street estimates.

Among others, Maruti Suzuki, Dr. Reddys Lab, Coal India and Bajaj Auto added around 1% each. Banks were also up with slim gains. ICICI Bank rose 0.8%, HDFC Bank edged up 0.2% while SBI inched up 0.1%.

In Sydney, Whitehaven Coal surged over 8% after two of its coal mine projects received conditional approval from the Australian government.

Mining equipment supplier Bradken Ltd. bounced over 10% while Seven Group Holdings added 2.6%.

Among other miners, index leader BHP Billiton slipped 0.3% while Rio Tinto eased 0.5%.

Financials were also mostly lower. NAB and Westpac eased around 0.5% each but Commonwealth Bank added 0.7% ahead of its earnings report tomorrow.