Japan Stocks Rise In Bumpy Ride, With Yen, Earnings In Focus

MarketWatch Pulse

Japanese stocks moved up, down and all around in early Thursday action, with the most heavily weighted blue chips trading mixed in the face of a rising yen and overnight gains on the U.S. stock exchanges. About 15 minutes into the morning session, the Nikkei Average was 0.1% higher, while the broader Topix saw a more robust 0.4% advance. The dollar was about half a yen lower than at the previous Tokyo stock close, buying �119.01, compared to �119.56. The forex action appeared to hinder some of the tech and industrial exporters with Toshiba Corp. down 0.5%, TDK Corp. down 0.8%, and robot maker Fanuc Corp. down 1.2%, given its large exposure to China, which posted weak March economic data the previous day. But other names saw gains, including a 1% rise for Panasonic Corp. , and a 2.8% rally for Nintendo Co. , and with Sony Corp. extending its recent gains by 0.5% amid hope for its sensor business. Other globally exposed companies were also mixed, as Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing Co. fell 0.7%, but Softbank Corp. rose 1.6%, possibly helped by a 1% rise for shares of its listed U.S. unit Sprint Corp. during Wednesday trade in New York. Stock in Toyota Motor Corp. added 0.2% after reports the auto maker would spend about $1.4 billion to build new plants in Mexico and China, while Casio Computer Co. enjoyed a 3.4% gain, perhaps boosted by buzz surounding its new scientific calculator that includes spreadsheet functions. A bevy of Nikkei news reports previewing the upcoming earnings season also fueled some gains, with ball-bearing maker Minebea Co. rising 2.8% on word its fiscal 2014 operating profit surged by 86%, and chemical maker Showa Denko KK gaining 4.5% on expectations it will post significant profit gains this calendar year, even as first-quarter operating income is tipped to drop by 50%. Also getting a boost from a Nikkei news item, car-navigation makers Clarion Co. and JVC Kenwood Corp. advanced 7.3% and 3.4%, respectively, on forecasts of major earnings gains.

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