Tokyo: Japan’s Nikkei average hit its highest close in nearly five years on Wednesday as better-than-expected trade data from China boosted sentiment further after a record Wall Street finish overnight.

While stocks of firms focused on China were among the big gainers, concerns about Germany were also eased after the euro zone’s powerhouse reported strong industrial orders.

The Nikkei advanced 0.7% to 14,285.69 after climbing as high as 14,421.38, its highest level since June 2008, extending the previous session’s 3.6% rally that came after an extended holiday and recent upbeat US jobs data.

“I had been telling my clients to buy into any coming dip but the problem so far has been that dip hasn’t looked like coming," said Stefan Worrall, director of equity cash sales at Credit Suisse. “I’ll almost be glad when it does."

Official data showed on Wednesday that China’s exports and imports grew more than expected in April from a year ago, possibly easing some of the concerns about weakness in the recovery of the world’s second-largest economy.

Komatsu Ltd gained 4.4% and industrial robot manufacturer Fanuc Corp. advanced 3.6% as stocks with heavy exposure to China climbed.

Other notable gainers include Sharp Corp., which surged 6.3% after a newspaper reported that the consumer electronics maker would begin mass production of liquid crystal displays for the next model of Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 in June.

The broader Topix index edged up 0.5% to 1,194.34, with 3.92 billion shares changing hands, compared to last month’s average daily volume of 4.31 billion shares.

During the session, the index briefly surpassed the 1,200 points for the first time since September 2008.

Earnings season in full swing

Japanese corporate earnings as well as forecasts for the current fiscal year through March were also in focus on Wednesday. Toshiba Corp. fell 5% after the Nikkei said the leading chipmaker and supplier to Apple was likely to miss its own operating profit forecast by 23% for the fiscal year that ended in March. After the close, the company said its operating profit had fallen 4.1% on the year to 194.3 billion yen ($1.96 billion), 25% less than its guidance of 260 billion yen.

Toyota Motor Corp., which also announced its full-year results after the market close, gained 1.4%. The world’s best-selling automaker almost quadrupled its operating profit to 1.32 trillion yen ($13.3 billion) in the year ended 31 March, beating market expectations of 1.26 trillion yen profit, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine’s SmartEstimates, which places emphasis on top-rated analysts.

Of the 67 Nikkei companies that have posted quarterly results so far, 55% of them either beat or met market expectations, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. That compared with 62% misses in the previous quarter.

“So far, the overall impression is that results seem to be good but forecasts are conservative," said Hiromichi Tamura,chief strategist at Nomura Securities. “But the momentum has been strong and investors expect further rises in the Japanese market."

Tamura, who predicts the Nikkei to touch 14,500 by June and 16,000 at the end of the year, said that the index’s recent surge has not stopped investors from buying more stocks.

“Japanese stocks are cheap given companies’ potential growth in their earnings mid-term even though forecasts are conservative at this point," he said.

In April, foreign investors snapped up Japanese stocks, with net buying at 2.68 trillion yen, the highest monthly level since July 1982 when the Tokyo Stock Exchange started keeping records.

The benchmark Nikkei has surged more than 65% since mid-November, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began promising expansionary monetary and fiscal policies to revive the economy during his election campaign. Reuters

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