Sat, 04 Feb 2023

TOKYO, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index closed higher Thursday, tracking Wall Street higher overnight, after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's dovish remarks on the pace of interest rate hikes.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average added 257.09 points, or 0.92 percent, from Wednesday to close the day at 28,226.08.

The broader Topix index, meanwhile, edged up 0.89 point, or 0.04 percent, to finish at 1,986.46.

Brokers here said that Powell saying the Fed could slow the pace of its interest rate hikes from December sent Wall Street higher overnight, as market participants had been bracing for a more hawkish stance from the Fed chief.

"Before the speech, there was a view that the Fed will continue with a 0.75 point rate hike in December," Yuzo Sakai, chief manager of foreign exchange business promotion at Ueda Totan Forex Ltd., was quoted as saying.

"That possibility shrunk after Mr. Powell's speech, as market participants believe a 0.50 point increase is more likely," Sakai said.

Other market analysts said that some concerns remain, however, about the future course of the Fed's interest rate hikes, ahead of key U.S. jobs data due Friday and continued fears of a slowing U.S. economy.

"Market participants are still cautious as they await U.S. employment data due out soon," Takatoshi Itoshima, a strategist at Pictet Asset Management Japan, was quoted as saying, adding, "The market could go up or down once investors digest a slower pace of U.S. rate hikes later in the month."

"There could also be concerns about corporate earnings worsening on the back of a slowing economy," Itoshima said.

Electric appliance, chemical and precision instrument issues comprised those that gained the most.

Chip-related issues followed their U.S. peers higher, with heavyweight Advantest jumping 4.4 percent, while Tokyo Electron ended the day 4 percent higher.

Technology investor Softbank Group, another heavily-weighted component, helped bolster the broader market, rising 1.6 percent.

Pharmaceutical firm Eisai extended gains, climbing 4.7 percent, on hopes that its new Alzheimer's drug will receive approval in Japan and overseas.

But exporter issues came under pressure as Powell's remarks sent the yen higher versus the U.S. dollar.

Among these, Toyota Motor reversed 0.6 percent, while Canon dropped 1.4 percent.

Issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,150 to 620, while 66 ended the day unchanged.

On the Prime Market on Thursday, 1,244.98 million shares changed hands, dropping from Wednesday's volume of 1,664.50 million shares.

The turnover on the penultimate trading day of the week came to 3,140.45 billion yen (22.99 billion U.S. dollars).

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