Banks climb amid growing hope US lenders stabilising
* High-tech exporters up on industry hopes after Google, Nokia
* Nippon Steel surges on smaller-than-expected price cut
TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei average rose 1.7 percent on Friday as financial stocks such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (8306.T) climbed after reassuring earnings results from JPMorgan (JPM.N) fuelled hopes that the banking sector is stabilising.
Sony Corp (6758.T) and other high-tech shares gained after Google Inc’s (GOOG.O) quarterly profit topped expectations, while the world’s top cellphone maker Nokia (NOK1V.HE) said it saw signs of stabilising demand in the handset market. [ID:nN16272680] [ID:nLG183354]
Nippon Steel Corp (5401.T) surged after a newspaper said the steelmaker and its peers had agreed with Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) to cut steel prices by more than 10 percent this business year, a smaller-than-expected price cut. [ID:nT286976]
“Investors are beginning to harbour hopes that the high-tech industry may be bottoming out. Although demand hasn’t exactly turned positive, there are signs that contractions are slowing,” said Takahiko Murai, general manager at Nozomi Securities.
“At least until the announcement of the results of (bank) ‘stress tests’ on May 4, the market probably won’t sell off bank shares. Also, considering what we have seen so far about U.S. banks earnings, the market doesn’t expect Citigroup to post surprisingly bad figures.”
Citigroup (C.N) is due to post quarterly results on Friday.
A U.S. Federal Reserve official said on Thursday that results of “stress tests” designed to see how the 19 largest U.S. banks would fare should the recession prove unexpectedly severe, would be made public on May 4. [ID:nN16267186]
The benchmark Nikkei .N225 climbed 146.70 points to 8,901.96, while the broader Topix .TOPIX added 1.5 percent to 844.53.
On Wall Street on Thursday, the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index .SPX climbed 1.6 percent after JPMorgan’s results beat analysts’ expectations as debt trading and underwriting revenue surged. [ID:nN16542451]
That added to a string of encouraging results from other banks, including Wells Fargo’s (WFC.N) strong preliminary figures last week.
Japan’s banking shares gained, with top lender Mitsubishi UFJ advancing 2 percent to 515 yen and No.2 Mizuho Financial Group (8411.T) rising 1 percent to 194 yen.
Nomura Holdings (8604.T), the top brokerage, added 1.7 percent to 592 yen.
Exporters gained after Google’s (GOOG.O) results, though Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said the economic environment remains tough with users still searching but buying less.
Sony Corp (6758.T) jumped 4.5 percent to 2,555 yen, after Google’s YouTube said it had reached a deal to post Sony films and TV shows and was talking with other big studios to ramp up content and attract more advertising. [ID:nN16520771]
Canon Inc (7751.T) advanced 2.2 percent to 3,050 yen, while Panasonic Corp (6752.T) gained 2.4 percent to 1,343 yen.
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) gained 3 percent to 3,820 yen and Honda Motor Co (7267.T) also rose 3 percent to 2,780 yen.
Shares of Nippon Steel shot up 8 percent to 338 yen. (Reporting by Aiko Hayashi)