Monday, March 04 07:34:43
Japan's Nikkei average closed up 0.4 percent today after briefly hitting a 53-month high as the government's nominee for central bank governor outlined a forceful policy to defeat deflation.
Gains on the index, led by real estate and financial firms, were trimmed by a suspension of futures trading on the Osaka Securities Exchange due to technical problems.
The Nikkei ended at 11,652.29, after reaching as high as 11,767.68, the highest level since September 2008, after nominee Haruhiko Kuroda said he would not set any limits on the amount of cash the Bank of Japan pumps into the economy.
Traders said stocks would have risen even higher had the trade in Nikkei futures, options and some derivative products not been suspended in Osaka.
"Investors who were engaging in arbitrage trades between futures and cash had to stay on the sidelines when futures and options trading was halted," said Hiroyuki Fukunaga, the chief executive of Investrust.
"As soon as trading was suspended, investors started to lock in profits, and the Nikkei was trimming gains. If that incident didn't happen, the index could have moved towards 11,800."
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policies, combined with monetary stimulus and fiscal stimulus, have buoyed investors' risk appetites and have lifted the Nikkei by more than 12 percent this year.
On Monday, Kuroda told lawmakers the BOJ's current policies were not powerful enough to boost inflation to 2 percent, a target he said the central bank should strive to achieve in two years.
"It's not like Kuroda will ease monetary policy every month, but investors are comfortable with having Japanese stocks in their portfolios as they are convinced that there will be easing for sure," said Shun Maruyama, chief strategist at BNP Paribas.
The real estate sector was the third-best sectoral performer, gaining 3.4 percent. Sumitomo Realty & Development jumped 3.9 percent and Mitsubishi Estate climbed 3.6 percent. (C) Reuters]