25 March 2019, Monday  |  
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Market Commentary - Foreign Markets  
Japan Nikkei gains on Wall Street's advance, yen's softness
(09:24, 11 Jan 2019)
Headline indices of the Japan share market advanced on Friday, 11 January 2019, as investors' sentiments bolstered by yen softness to lower 108 zone gainst greenback, optimism over U.S.-China trade negotiations, and continued signs of flexibility from the Federal Reserve. Around two third of 33 subindexes of the Tokyo Stock Exchange's were in positive territory, with shares in Real Estate, Electric Power & Gas, Electric Appliances, Transportation Equipment, and Machinery issues being notable gainers, while Retail Trade, Warehousing & Harbor Transportation Services, and Fishery, Agriculture & Forestry were notable losers. Around late afternoon trade, the 225-issue Nikkei index added 142.36 points, or 0.7%, at 20,306.16. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange added 4.79 points, or 0.3%, to 1,526.80.

Risk appetite buying in the Asian market today bolstered as signs of progress between the world's two biggest economies and dovish commentary from the Fed help lift sentiment. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated on Thursday the U.S. central bank has the ability to be patient on monetary policy given that inflation remains stable. Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida also struck a dovish tone, further cementing the central bank's willingness to remain patient on the issue of raising rates. Minutes from the Federal Reserve's Dec. 18-19 meeting showed several policymakers were in favor of keeping rates steady this year. On Thursday, Fed officials echoed the minutes' cautious stance. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a voter on the Federal Open Market Committee this year, said the U.S. central bank's policy stance may be too hawkish and it should listen to market signals and stop raising interest rates. Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, another FOMC voter in 2019, repeated his view on Thursday that the Fed has “good capacity to wait” before delivering what he expects will be three more rate hikes. Markets are now pricing in no further rate hikes by the Fed this year.

On the trade front, China and the United States made progress on “structural issues” such as forced technology transfers and intellectual property rights in talks this week and more consultations are being arranged, China's commerce ministry said on Thursday. The three-day talks in Beijing that wrapped up on Wednesday were the first face-to-face negotiations since US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met.

Shares of export-related players gained, boosted by yen's depreciation against the U.S. dollar.

ECONOMIC NEWS: Japan household spending was up 0.3% on year in November, coming in at 281,041 yen, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Friday. The average of monthly income per household was 455,644 yen - up 1.8% on year. Among the individual components, spending was up for education and down for food, housing, fuel, furniture and clothing.

Japan posted a current account surplus of 757.2 billion yen in November, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday, down from 1,309.9 billion yen in October. The trade balance reflected a deficit of 559.1 billion yen following the 321.7 billion yen deficit in the previous month. Exports were up 1.9% on year to 6.918 trillion yen, while imports surged an annual 13.5% to 7.477 trillion yen.

CURRENCY NEWS: The Japanese yen, which can be a haven during market uncertainty, was little changed in the lower 108 yen zone against dollar on Friday. The dollar was quoted at 108.28-29 yen compared with 108.38-48 yen in New York and 107.92-93 yen on Thursday in Tokyo.The euro, meanwhile, fetched 124.67-68 yen against 124.66-76 yen in New York and 124.54-58 yen in late Thursday afternoon trade in Tokyo.

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