Tokyo: Japan’s Nikkei average began 2009 on a strong note on Monday, climbing 2.1% and hitting a two-month high on hopes year 2009 will be better than last, the worst in the Nikkei’s history.
Honda Motor Co and other exporters climbed on a weaker yen. Resource-linked firms such as trading houses surged as oil jumped more than 3%, after an Iranian military commander reportedly called on Islamic countries to cut oil exports to supporters of Israel over Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip to stop Hamas rocket attacks.
In a half-day of trade that began with a ceremony attended by young women in colourful brocade kimonos, the benchmark Nikkei gained 183.56 points to 9,043.12, ending above 9,000 for the first time in two months.
Though it gained on its final day of trade on 30 December, the Nikkei lost 42% for 2008, the worst year in its history.
The broader Topix rose 1.9% to 875.91.
US stocks surged on Friday as investors discounted discouraging economic data, including Friday’s release showing a sharp contraction in factory activity, with anticipation of a turnaround in the second half of 2009 buoying the market.
The dollar rallied to a three-week high against the yen on Friday after the strong Wall Street performance encouraged risk appetite. It was fetching around 92.06yen in Tokyo.
Market players remained wary despite the surge, with several saying they felt the Nikkei might be a bit too high.
In one sign this may still be far away, drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo finished flat, erasing earlier losses, after the Nikkei business daily said it is likely to book more than 300 billion yen in losses for the April-December period stemming from the declining stock price of its Indian subsidiary, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.
Energy-linked shares surged in the wake of the Middle East troubles and concerns over a deepening row between Russia and Ukraine over gas prices.
Oil and gas field developer Inpex climbed 3.3% to 721,000yen, while Japan’s largest trading firm Mitsubishi Corp surged 9.2 percent to 1,352yen. Fellow trader Mitsui & Co jumped 8.6 percent to 978yen.
Market players said investors were turning their eyes to shares that had been sold off especially sharply during the last year, with automakers -- among the worst-hit sectors in 2008 -- and financials gaining.
Honda climbed 2.7% to 1,958yen and Toyota Motor Co gained 3.6% to 3,010yen, shrugging off a weekend report in Japan’s Sankei newspaper that Toyota will freeze plans to build new factories in Thailand and Russia due to sluggish global demand.
Suzuki Motor Corp rose 3.7% to 1,273yen despite a report by the Nikkei business daily that it will shelve a plan to launch large-sized cars in 2010 and delay the start of overseas factories amid a sharp deterioration in the global auto market.
Tech shares climbed, with Advantest Corp rising 5.3% to 1,506yen and Kyocera Corp climbing 3.3% to 6,590yen.
In Monday’s half-day of trading, volume picked up on the Tokyo exchange’s first section with 1.1 billion shares changing hands, compared with 854 million shares on the last trading day of 2008, also a half-day.