By Kevin Buckland
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei average rose on Friday, paring a weekly decline, as a weaker yen and an overnight Wall Street close boosted sentiment.
However, with important US jobs data due later in the day and most major markets closed for Good Friday, investors were loath to chase the market higher.
The Nikkei ended the day up 0.17%, at 27,518.31. However, that was off an early high of 27,591.15, and the index briefly fell into the red after a midday break.
The Japanese stock index lost 1.9% during the first week of the new Japanese fiscal year. It reached a nearly one-month high of 28,287.42 on Tuesday, only to subsequently slide with global equities as a wave of weak US economic data fueled fears of a recession.
The broader Topix rose 0.21% to 1,965.44 on Friday, trimming its weekly loss to 1.9%.
Concerns that the Federal Reserve will overdo its tightening campaign amplified the importance of the monthly non-farm payrolls report later in the day, even though US financial markets will be closed for a holiday.
Provided the employment data does not prove a game-changer, however, Nomura Securities expects the Nikkei to move in a narrow range next week, sandwiched between the 25- and 200-day moving averages.
“The top side is heavy, but the bottom is firm,” said Kazuo Kamitani, a strategist at Nomura.
Although the US also has consumer price data next week, Japanese stocks are becoming less sensitive to US inflation indicators, he said.
The yen fell as a safe haven overnight after hitting its highest level since March 28 earlier in the week, and was trading little changed on Friday at 131.805 per dollar.
That helped automakers in particular, with Mazda up 1.95% and Subaru up 1.33%. However, Toyota slipped to 0.38% after revealing its updated electric vehicle strategy.
Seven & i Holdings, operator of the 7-Eleven chain in Japan, was the biggest loser, falling 4% after disappointing earnings results. (Editing by Uttarish Venkateshwaran) (([email protected];)) Keywords: Japanese stocks/close
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