Tokyo shares close up more than 1% on dovish Fed

Tokyo: Tokyo shares gained more than one percent Thursday following overnight rallies on Wall Street, as the US Federal Reserve voiced a cautious stance about future rate hikes.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.06 percent, or 216.95 points, to close at 20,773.49 while the broader Topix index was up 1.08 percent, or 16.73 points, at 1,567.49.

Investors cheered as the Fed signalled a cautious approach to tightening monetary policy, which was seen as being more market-friendly than some analysts expected.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the case for further rate hikes had “weakened somewhat” and the central bank had decided to keep interest rates unchanged.

The Dow finished 1.8 percent higher, boosted also by better-than-expected earnings from Apple and Boeing.

“In the short term, the Fed’s stance is positive news, improving market sentiment,” said Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato.

“But major trading issues such as the US-China trade war and Brexit have not been resolved, which made players remain cautious,” Sato told AFP.

The Fed’s message also drove down the dollar against the yen, which offset buying sentiment, brokers added.

The US currency stood at 108.76 yen in Asian afternoon trade, against 109.02 yen in New York Wednesday.

Investors also kept their eyes on US-China trade talks that opened in Washington.

Shortly before the opening bell, the Japanese government announced that the nation’s industrial production in December dropped 0.1 percent from the previous month.

It was better than the market’s expectation of a 0.5 percent decrease, but still marked the seventh fall in the last nine months.

Still, the industry ministry maintained its assessment that “industrial production is picking up slowly”.

Among major shares, Nintendo, which is slated to publish its earnings later in the day, jumped 2.05 percent to 33,830 yen.

Canon dropped 0.63 percent to 3,114 yen after announcing on Wednesday that it expected its annual net profit for this calendar year to fall nearly five percent due to forex movements and shrinking camera demand.

Nissan rose 1.44 percent to 926.8 yen as the heads of automakers Renault and Nissan will meet Thursday in Amsterdam for the first time since former boss Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan.

Toyota was up 0.54 percent at 6,675 yen, while Sony jumped 3.52 percent to 5,467 yen.