Investors eye data in year’s last week

Investors eye data in year’s last week

TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Investors eye data in year’s last week

Pedestrians walk past a share prices board showing stock market numbers in Tokyo. AFP Photo

Japanese factory output and U.S. consumer confidence are among the few trading cues in the last trading week of the year, with Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 on track to be one of the best-performing major stock indices globally.

The Japanese market is open from today through Dec. 20 in what is expected to be quiet trading in a holiday-shortened week.

On Dec. 25, Tokyo closed lower, as a strong yen dented exporters, with most Asian markets shut for a public holiday.

However, Chinese shares rose on stimulus expectations, though gains were limited by the lack of trading enthusiasm as the year end approached, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 0.43 percent, or 15.42 points, to 3,627.91. It rose 1.37 percent over the week.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, gained 0.57 percent, or 13.36 points, to 2,359.73. It climbed 1.03 percent during the week.

Taiwan added 0.47 percent. Most other regional financial markets were closed.

Tokyo was dragged down by a stronger yen - bad news for exporters’ profitability -- as the dollar slipped to 120.11 yen against 120.28 yen on Dec. 24 in New York.

“The yen is back where it was before U.S. interest rates were raised,” Nomura strategist Juichi Wako told Bloomberg News.

“The fact that markets aren’t pricing in the next interest rate hike in the U.S. is the biggest factor” for the dollar’s weakness, Wako said.  

The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.11 percent, or 20.63 points, to 18,769.06 by the close. Over a holiday shortened week, it lost 1.15 percent.

Japanese markets were closed Dec. 23 for a public holiday.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares dropped 0.49 percent, or 7.43 points, to 1,516.19. It was down 1.36 percent this week.

With just a few days left of 2015 trading, the Nikkei is among the best-performing stock markets globally, rising 7.55 percent since the start of the year.

The Topix index is up 7.72 percent since the end of 2014.

Shortly before markets opened on Dec. 26, official figures showed Japan’s inflation rate ticked higher in November - the first gain in five months - but still-weak household spending weighed on the world’s number three economy.