Nikkei up slightly, holds at 6-month peak as financials gain

Dominic Lau
Sunday, 17 Nov 2013 | 8:25 PM ET

* Kyocera, Toyota Motor slip after stellar gains last week

* Financials strong after recent robust quarterly results

TOKYO, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei rose slightly to hold at six-month highs on Monday morning as investors scooped up financial shares after recent strong results, though recent outperformers like Toyota Motor Corp took a breather. The Nikkei was up 0.4 percent at 15,224.04 after hitting a six-month high of 15,253.24 earlier in the session. The benchmark, which has held at six-month highs in the past few sessions, ramped up 7.7 percent last week to mark its best weekly rise in four years. It is up 46.5 percent so far this year, spurred by Japan's massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. If the gains were to hold for the rest of the year, it would mark the index's best yearly performance since 1972. Kyocera Corp lost 1.1 percent after surging 7.6 percent last week - its biggest one-week percentage gain in six months, while Toyota slipped 0.2 percent. "There is a little bit of buying out there mostly in financials and some of the laggards," a senior dealer at a European bank in Tokyo said, adding that their buy orders outpaced sell by two to one and both long-only investors and hedge funds were active. However, the market might see profit-taking if the index advanced further, he said. Sony Financial Holdings Inc strengthened 1.2 percent after its six-month net profit reached 56 percent of its full-year target. Banking shares extended last week's gains after they posted strong quarterly results and lifted their full-year profit guidance. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group climbed 3.5 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose 1.1 percent and Mizuho Financial Group firmed 0.9 percent. With 98 percent of the Nikkei companies reporting quarterly results, two-third of them either beat or met analysts' expectations, data from Thomson Reuters StarMine showed. That compared with 44 percent in the three months a year ago. The broader Topix index added 0.5 percent to 1,245.46, with volume at 36 percent of full daily average for the past 90 trading days. Tokyo Electric Power Co advanced 1.6 percent after sources said the embattled company planned to shed more than 1,000 jobs via voluntary retirements by the second half of 2014 as it seeks to win more financial aid to clean up the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, wrecked by the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Unicharm Corp, a disposable diaper maker, climbed 3.5 percent and rival Pigeon Corp jumped 6.4 percent on news of China's plans to ease its one-child policy.

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