Japan’s Nikkei Gains on Pause in Yen Strength; Chip Stocks Surge

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tokyo Stock Exchange

TOKYO, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average rallied on Friday, buoyed by a pause in the yen’s climb that had weighed on exporters’ profit outlooks, while chip-related stocks tracked U.S. peers higher.

The Nikkei advanced 1.3% to 33,109.30 as of 0200 GMT, putting it on course for a 2.47% weekly gain after two weeks of losses.

The broader Topix added 0.82%, set for a 0.69% weekly advance.

For stocks, in the end, investors can’t help being obsessed with what’s going on in currency markets, said Kazuo Kamitani, a strategist at Nomura Securities.

However, he pointed to the 25-day moving average at around 33,130 as a potential ceiling for the Nikkei for now.

It seems highly unlikely it’ll get above that, even with a weakening yen.

Japan’s currency traded at around 142.30 per dollar on Friday, pulling back from a 4-1/2-month peak of 140.95 reached overnight.

Automaker shares benefited, with Toyota up 1.4%, Nissan gaining 2.8% and Subaru jumping 4.1%.

The yen has gained about 5% in three weeks amid bets the Bank of Japan is close to exiting negative interest rate policy while the Federal Reserve’s next move is expected to be a rate cut.

Chip-related shares made up the Nikkei’s top three supports, with chip-making equipment giant Tokyo Electron rising 2.9%, chip-testing machinery maker Advantest jumping 5% climb, and Shin-Etsu Chemical – which supplies silicon wafers – rallying 7%.

Energy shares also gained following a strong rebound in crude prices. The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s mining industry index , which includes oil explorers, gained 3.43% to be the second-best performer among the 33 industry groups, after shippers, which soared 5.24%.

Of the Nikkei’s 225 components, 143 rose, 81 fell and one traded flat.

Financials underperformed, with the TSE’s bank index down 0.61% as a decline in U.S. bond yields signaled lower returns from investing. Insurers slumped 1.23%.