Nikkei rises but markets cautious ahead of BOJ, Fed


TOKYO: Japanese stocks climbed above a 1-week high on Monday as investors shook off initial scepticism over the European Central Bank’s latest stimulus package and speculated that oil prices could be bottoming out.

The Nikkei share average ended up 1.7 percent at 17,233.75 points, after gaining more than 2 percent at one point.

Traders said appetite for risker assets was improving but slightly muted ahead of this week’s central bank policy announcements in the U.S. and Japan. The Bank of Japan’s two-day policy meeting will conclude on Tuesday.

The Topix subindex for banking shares added 2.8 percent amid evaporating expectations that the BOJ would deepen its unpopular negative rates policy at this week’s policy meeting. Most market watchers expect no major policy changes for now.

The insurance sector led the day’s gains, adding 4.2 percent.

Shares of Life Corp soared 4.1 percent after the food retailer hiked its full-year operating profit forecast and said it would raise its annual dividend to 30 yen per share from 25 yen per share.

Deutsche Bank cut the target prices of two companies it said could be adversely affected by gas deregulation in Japan.

Air conditioner maker Noritz fell 1.1 percent after Deutsche Bank cut its target price while heating appliance maker Rinnai Corp slid 2.4 percent.

Deutche Bank said both companies may need to spend much more money on advertising after deregulation puts an end to branded partnerships with Tokyo Gas Co Ltd .

The broader Topix climbed 1.5 percent to 1,379.95, with all but one of its 33 subindexes in positive territory.

The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 1.5 percent to 12,480.68.