Tokyo shares ended higher Tuesday as investors bought back positions as Russia-Ukraine geopolitical tensions eased sending the yen lower versus the U.S. dollar and on increased optimism ahead of corporate earnings season here for the last quarter.
The Nikkei 225 index climbed 127.57 points, 0.84 percent, to close at 15,343.28, while the broader Topix index of all first- section issues added 9.98 points, or 0.79 percent, to finish at 1, 273.27. Markets were closed in Japan on Monday for a national holiday.
Traders here said that although investors were eyeing the Russia-Ukraine situation with caution, the market mood was brighter following a ceasefire announced around a 10 km perimeter of the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, which killed all 298 passengers and crew.
The ceasefire was called by pro-Russian factions to allow international investigations into the crash to continue and the plane's black box flight recorder was handed over to officials leading the investigation, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Toshihiko Matsuno from SMBC Friend Securities Co. noted that while he expected the market to trade in a narrow range this week, losses from last week would be recouped on buybacks, with investors confident that extended sanctions against Russia were not expected to impact the global economy.
Local analysts said that in spite of geopolitical concerns also involving the Middle East and Israel's moves into Gaza, upcoming corporate earnings season in Japan due to kick off Wednesday were being eyed both keenly and positively.
"It depends on the upcoming corporate performances whether the key indexes could test higher ground," said Toshikazu Horiuchi, an equity strategist at IwaiCosmo Securities Co., adding that investors had high hopes for Japan Inc.'s earnings results starting tomorrow.
With last week's risk-averse mood sending investors fleeing from riskier assets like stocks and into bonds, gold and currency, the Japanese yen, a safe haven in times of market turbulence, was pushed up against other major currencies.
But in currency markets Tuesday the U.S. dollar fetched 101.53 yen in Tokyo, up from 101.38 yen logged in New York late Monday.
A weaker yen against its counterparts is a boon for Japanese exporters who see their earnings boosted and overseas profits augmented when yields are repatriated.
As such, exporters attracted buying, with Honda gaining 0.5 percent to 3,585 yen and Canon, the world's largest camera maker, advancing 0.32 percent to 3,401 yen.
Game and console maker Nintendo was also in the spotlight, jumping 3.4 percent to 12,925 yen, after Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co. raised its rating on the firm's stock from " underweight" to "equal-weight."
Consumer electronics maker Panasonic rose 1.8 percent to 1,215 yen, following media reports that Nokia will acquire a unit of Panasonic that develops communication equipment using wireless protocol.
Steelmakers were the market's top performers Tuesday, and Tokyo Steel Manufacturing surged 12 percent to 576 yen, following the company raising its full-year net-income projection by 21 percent to 8.5 billion yen, ahead of median analysts' estimates.
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, meanwhile, gained 3.0 percent to 313 yen, while Kobe Steel also closed in positive territory, adding 1.9 percent to finish at 159 yen.
Among financial issues, Mizuho Financial Group Inc. closed flat at 200 yen, while Chiba Bank climbed 3.8 percent to 760 yen, on a plan to buyback 15 million shares for around 10 billion yen.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange from the morning session introduced decimal pricing using sub-yen tick sizes for 100 issues listed on the TOPIX 100 index, allowing them to trade in 0.1 yen and 0.5 yen bands, as much as a tenth of the previous size, in a bid to increase trade.
Trading volume on Tuesday rose to 2.30 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, up from Friday's volume of 1.84 billion shares, with advancing issues outnumbering declining ones by 1,460 to 270.