By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Sep 21 : Japan’s Nikkei advanced to fresh eight-month highs led by an upbeat Wall Street performance, with commodity stocks rising as investors appeared to gravitate to the view that the U.S.-China trade row would be less damaging to growth than first feared.
The Nikkei share average gained 0.8 percent to 23,864.04 in midmorning trade, the highest level since January 24. The market eyes another milestone ahead, as the Nikkei edges closer to the 24,129.34 hit on Jan. 23, a break of which will put it at the highest point since November 1991.
For the week, the Nikkei has risen 3.1 percent so far.
Market analysts attributed the Nikkei’s recent gains to market views the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war would be less harmful to global growth than initially feared.
Earlier this week, China added $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list to hit back at U.S. duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods that go into effect from Sept. 24.
“The market is focused more on the strong U.S. economy and inflation expectations and is less worried about the impact from U.S.-China trade conflict,” said Naoki Fujiwara, a fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management.
He said investors are also looking ahead to the second round of trade talks between Japan and the U.S. scheduled on Sept. 24.
“If the U.S. says something provocative, it could dent the market temporarily but right now investors think the market will likely take this event in stride,” Fujiwara said.
Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday that his meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will follow one in August, where the two sides failed to narrow differences on whether to open up negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
Insurers and banks, which hunt for high-yielding products such as foreign bonds, rallied as U.S. 10-year yields remained comfortably above 3 percent. Dai-ichi Life Holdings jumped 2.4 percent and T&D Holdings rallied 2.6 percent.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group gained 1.2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group advanced 0.9 percent.
Iron and non-ferrous metal stocks as well as shippers attracted buying on hopes the demand impact from China as a result of the trade frictions will be limited. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal gained 1.5 percent, JFE Holdings soared 2.2 percent and Sumitomo Metal Mining jumped 2.7 percent.
Shippers Kawasaki Kisen added 1.3 percent and Mitsui OSK Lines surged 2.5 percent.
Construction equipment makers, whose performances are linked to China demand, were also steady. Komatsu gained x percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery added 2.7 percent.
The broader Topix gained 0.7 percent to 1,799.81.