Japan’s Nikkei settled at a high not seen in three months on Monday after exhausting some earlier sharp gains in volatile trade, while banks were sold after the central bank governor reaffirmed his readiness to ease monetary policy further. Led by such defensive stocks as utility companies and retailers, the Nikkei ended 0.7 per cent higher at 17,037.63, the highest closing level since May 31. Still, it was down from the intraday high of 17,156.36 hit in morning trade.
Investors chased the market higher in morning trade, echoing Wall Street’s positive reactions to Friday’s news of slower than expected US jobs growth, which meant little chance of a Federal Reserve rate hike this month. But financials, which had led the market earlier, lost momentum after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told a seminar that the central bank’s comprehensive review of its policies later this month would not lead to monetary easing being withdrawn.
He shrugged off growing market concerns that the central bank’s policies were reaching their limits, stressing that the BOJ had room to deepen negative rates even as he acknowledged that the policy had its own risks. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group dropped 1.5 per cent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group shed 0.8 per cent and Dai-ichi Life Insurance shed 0.3 per cent.
“Different asset classes reacted differently to Kuroda’s comments,” said Chihiro Ohta, general manager at investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities, adding that investors were still digesting his comments. The dollar, which stood near 104.00 yen ahead of Kuroda’s comments, fell to 103.52 yen at one point and was last trading at 103.43 yen, down 0.5 per cent on the day.
Ohta said that investors would continue to study Japan monetary policy headlines and U.S. economic indicators – the key factors setting market direction for now. The broader Topix gained 0.2 per cent to 1,343.85 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.2 per cent to 12,087.00.