By V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japanese stocks were propelled higher Friday after the U.S. dollar climbed atop the 100-yen level for the first time in four years, stoking sharp gains in exporters.
Most other regional markets also rose, although gains were capped as stocks on Wall Street dropped overnight, taking a breather after key U.S. benchmarks closed at record highs on multiple occasions recently.
/zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed NIK 22,714.44, +407.96, +1.83%
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.83% finished the day 2.9% higher at 14,607.54, clinching a weekly gain of 6.7%. The broader Topix /zigman2/quotes/210598092/delayed JP:180460 +1.60% gained 2.4% to 1,210.60. The surge came as the dollar overcame stiff resistance seen in the last few weeks to climb over the psychologically important ¥100 level overnight in the U.S.
“With Japan at the beginning of its two-year expansion project, any talk of the U.S. winding back its stimulus will see the yen continue to weaken again the [dollar],” said IG Markets strategist Evan Lucas.
“The 2% inflation target domestically is all the Bank of Japan is after, and it will continue to ramp up stimulus measures if this does not occur fast enough, which will push the pair higher,” Evans said.
After breaking past the ¥100 barrier in U.S. trade, the dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.1432% rallied further in the Asian session, and was fetching ¥101.30 by late afternoon in Hong Kong. Late Thursday in North America, the greenback was buying ¥100.48.
Shares of companies with a significant international presence got a boost on expectations the weakened yen would provide them a competitive edge and increase their repatriated profits.
Casio Computer Co. /zigman2/quotes/202492162/delayed JP:6952 +1.99% /zigman2/quotes/206719136/composite CSIOY -2.82% , Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 +3.42% /zigman2/quotes/202333059/composite PCRFY +1.82% , Komatsu Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204002437/delayed JP:6301 +2.36% /zigman2/quotes/206435044/composite KMTUF +2.43% and Japan Tobacco Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208255672/delayed JP:2914 +0.88% /zigman2/quotes/208949046/composite JAPAF -3.53% all climbed 3% or more.
Currency-sensitive car-maker shares saw particularly strong gains, with Mazda Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204777714/delayed JP:7261 +4.10% /zigman2/quotes/206326885/composite MZDAY +1.96% rising 7.2%, Nissan Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 +5.15% /zigman2/quotes/207656007/composite NSANY +2.76% up 3%, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. /zigman2/quotes/202404490/delayed JP:7211 +4.58% /zigman2/quotes/200876874/composite MMTOF +5.65% adding 5.2%, and Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203522406/delayed JP:7270 +1.73% /zigman2/quotes/203008939/composite FUJHF -0.94% jumping 11.3%.
Nikon Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203281219/delayed JP:7731 +3.30% /zigman2/quotes/209396469/composite NINOY +2.36% spiked 14.6%, catching an additional bid a day after issuing a better-than-expected earnings forecast.
Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +0.92% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE +0.38% added 2.5%, after it posted its first annual profit in five years.
Suzuki Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201794956/delayed JP:7269 +5.13% /zigman2/quotes/201304995/composite SZKMY +3.25% gained 7.5% after it reported a record profit for the financial year ended March 31.
Renesas Electronics Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203872935/delayed JP:6723 +3.12% /zigman2/quotes/201351352/composite RNECY +2.06% gained 3% despite reporting a wider annual loss, after the Nikkei newspaper cited a top company official as saying the firm was currently drawing up turnaround plans.