Tokyo stock market hits 15-year high

Tokyo’s stock market hit a 15-year high Wednesday as Seoul and Shanghai also rose, but Hong Kong and other Asian markets retreated after recent gains.

Tokyo rose 0.85%, or 170.18 points, to 20,196.56 — its highest since April 2000 — although car parts maker Takata plunged after a recall of US cars fitted with the firm’s airbags doubled to 34 million.

Seoul was up 0.88%, closing 18.69 points higher at 2,139.54, and Shanghai gained 0.65%, or 28.74 points, to 4,446.29.

However Sydney ended marginally lower, giving up 5.2 points to 5,610.3, and Hong Kong lost 0.39%, or 108.49 points, to end at 27,585.05.

Taipei fell 0.32%, or 31.46 points, to 9,685.31 but Manila closed up 0.13%, or 10.62 points, at 7,881.93.

In Europe, main stock markets steadied at the start of trading following strong gains a day earlier.

London’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.14% to 7,005.01 points, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 inched up 0.04% to 11,858.47 points and the CAC 40 in Paris fell 0.22% to 5,106.26.

The Frankfurt and Paris stock markets had surged on Tuesday after a European Central Bank executive board member signalled that the ECB would temporarily ramp up its stimulus programme aimed at boosting the eurozone economy.

Official Japanese data showed the economy grew 0.6% in the first three months of the year, after limping out of recession in the previous quarter. The figure was better than the revised 0.3% expansion in October-December and beat the market median forecast of a 0.4% quarter-on-quarter increase.

“The January-March GDP growth data were good… and buoyed sentiment,” said Takuya Takahashi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

“Corporate earnings for the fiscal year to March were (also) generally good and many companies took measures to return surplus to shareholders,” he added, referring to share buy-backs and dividend increases.

Even though the data reduced the likelihood the Bank of Japan would further loosen monetary policy, the yen weakened against the dollar as upbeat US figures supported the greenback.

The dollar bought 121.03 yen Wednesday, compared with 120.68 yen in New York and well above 119.94 yen in Tokyo earlier Tuesday.




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