Tokyo, March 13 (AFP/APP): Tokyo stocks rose Tuesday for a fourth consecutive session on a weak yen, while investors remained cautious about the market impact of a cronyism scandal dogging Japan's premier.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.66 percent or 144.07 points to close at 21,968.10 while the broader Topix index was up 0.56 percent or 9.73 points, at 1,751.03. Shares opened lower as a strong yen weighed down on the market.
“But sentiment revived as the yen started losing ground,” Hikaru Sato, senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities, told AFP. The dollar rose to 106.75 yen in afternoon trade, up from 106.34 yen earlier in the day and 106.40 yen in New York Monday afternoon.
A weak yen is positive for Japanese exporters as it makes their products more competitive abroad while expanding repatriated profits. On Wall Street Monday, the Dow and S&P 500 both fell on revived fears of a trade war while the tech-heavy Nasdaq pushed to a fresh record high.
In Japan, investors were watching a cronyism scandal that has put pressure on the government, although its negative impact is so far limited.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has faced mounting pressure in recent days over the 2016 sale of state-owned land to one of his supporters at a price well below market value. Finance Minister Taro Aso admitted official documents had been altered but said he did not intend to step down.
“The market is concerned as it certainly has a negative impact on the Abe government,” said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center. “On the other hand, the there is no decent opposition party which could replace (Abe's) ruing Liberal Democratic Party,” which means political turmoil is unlikely, Sengoku told AFP.
Electronics makers advanced as Sony jumped 1.07 percent to 5,356 yen, with Panasonic up 0.74 percent at 1,692 yen. Nintendo rose 0.78 percent to 48,780 yen and Toyota gained 0.15 percent to 6,969 yen but Honda lost 0.82 percent to 3,708 yen. Banks were mixed as Mitsubishi UJF Financial Group rose 0.75 percent to 737.7 yen with Sumitomo Mitsui down 0.25 percent at 4,616 yen.