Japan Stocks Pull Higher, With Softbank, Nintendo, Fast Among Gainers

MarketWatch Pulse

Japanese stocks rolled out of the open with modest gains Friday, helped by some upbeat corporate updates and a benign foreign-exchange picture, though reports predicted only conservative moves on the Tokyo bourse ahead of the U.S. April employment report due later in the global day. The Nikkei Stock Average pulled 0.3% higher after surrendering 1.2% the previous day, while the Topix improved by 0.2%. The yen was a little weaker, with the dollar at �119.77 after trading in the mid-�119 range on Thursday. Stock in Nintendo Co. garnered some buzz, rising 7% after the company reported a swing to operating profit, raised its dividend and announced a deal with Universal theme parks to license its characters. This contrasted with videogame company Capcom Co. , falling 1% after its own results. Auto makers were also in focus after the release of China sales figures for April. Honda Motor Co. -- which boasted an almost 12% rise in Chinese sales -- saw its stock gain 1.1%, but Toyota Motor Corp. was down 0.2% ahead of its earnings report slated for after the close. Toyota's China results were up almost 8% from a year earlier, but Nissan Motor Co. saw a 19% drop in China results, and its stock was 0.4% lower. Isuzu Motors Ltd. rose 0.2% as a Nikkei report tipped the car and truck producer to report a milder-than-expected 2% drop in operating profit for the fiscal year ended in March. Shares of Softbank Corp. were the lone gainer among the big telecoms, rising 1.8% after news of its investment in electronics retailer Yamada Denki Co. , shares of which also rose 1.8%. Elsewhere in the retail space, Uniqlo clothing-store owner Fast Retailing Co. rallied 1.5% on the back of an almost 20% jump in April same-store sales. And Hello Kitty creator Sanrio Co. added 1.1% to its share price, with another Nikkei news report predicting the company would miss expectations for fiscal-year profit but would slightly beat forecasts for revenue.

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