By Makiko Suzuki, Bloomberg
Tokyo: Japanese energy-related stocks rose, led by Inpex Holdings Inc., after crude oil jumped to a six- month high in New York.
Limiting gains, exporters including Sony Corp. and Honda Motor Co. fell after US consumer confidence declined and home prices slipped.
Benchmarks swung between gains and losses. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average was little changed at 17,359.55 as of 9:33 a.m. in Tokyo. It earlier slipped by as much as 0.2 % and rose by as much as 0.2 %. The broader Topix index added 1.33, or 0.1 %, to 1725.19, reversing a loss of as much as 0.2 %.
Inpex, Japan’s largest oil explorer, climbed 25,000 yen, or 2.6 %, to 972,000. Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., the country’s second biggest, advanced by 170 yen, or 2.1 %, to 8,400. Nippon Oil Corp., Japan’s No. 1 petroleum refiner, rose 14 yen, or 1.5 %, to 959.
The Topix Mining Index, which includes Inpex, jumped 2.5 %, the biggest percentage gain of the 33 industry groups in the broad measure.
Crude oil in New York surged in electronic trading on speculation supplies will be disrupted because of tension in the Persian Gulf after Iran seized British servicemen and the United Nations imposed new sanctions on the country.
Oil traded at $64.12 a barrel late yesterday in New York, up $1.19 from the day’s settlement price of $62.93. That was the highest level since 11September 2006. Five trades were done between $68 and $68.09 a barrel just before 5 p.m., for the highest intraday price since September.
Consumer Confidence Drops
Sony, the world’s biggest maker of video-game players, dropped by 60 yen, or 1 %, to 6,150. Honda, which had 55 % of its sales in North America last year, slid by 40 yen, or 1 %, to 4,160. Canon, the world’s No. 1 digital camera maker, lost by 40 yen, or 0.6 %, to 6,430.
Concern about the spread of home foreclosures and rising fuel prices pushed down consumer confidence in Japan’s biggest overseas market from a five-year high.
The Conference Board’s index of consumer sentiment dropped more than forecast to 107.2 this month from 111.2 in February. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the US economy.
Investors may also refrain from buying exporter stocks until they see US orders for durable goods, or products made to last at least three years, due for release later today, according to Yoshinori Nagano, who helps manage about $70 billion at Daiwa Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.
The orders rebounded in February from an 8.7 % slide in a previous month, adding 3.5 %, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Orient Corp Surges
“Concern over the US economy will intensify if the order figures fail to meet investors’ expectations,” said Nagano.
Orient Corp., which provides consumer loan services, surged 12 yen, or 8.8 %, to 149 after The Nikkei newspaper reported the company, expecting a fiscal year loss, will receive a total of 75 billion yen ($636.2 million) in capital from Mizuho Financial Group Inc. and Itochu Corp.
Both Mizuho and Itochu said nothing has been decided yet.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., Asia’s No.1 utility, fell by 20 yen, or 0.5 %, to 4,130 after a document obtained by Bloomberg showed it will delay the completion of two nuclear reactors at the plant where it hid an accident in 1978. The Nikkei newspaper also said the company’s capital spending will rise on increasing fuel costs.
Nikkei futures expiring in June fell by 0.2 % to 17,390 in Osaka and declined by 0.4 % to 17,385 in Singapore.