Tokyo stocks ended marginally higher Wednesday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index gaining 0.16 percent despite news of the central bank keeping its monetary policy unchanged which sent the yen higher versus the dollar during trade after the break.
Local traders said the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) decision to maintain its aggressive monetary easing to stimulate the country's economy and combat decades of deflation was widely expected although it briefly sent the yen higher against the U.S. dollar, dampening investor sentiment towards Japan's key exporter-related issues.
The yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar after the BOJ decision and sent issues lower. The Japanese currency was logged 0. 2 percent higher at 104.11 after the lunch break on Wednesday.
Brokers said some market players had been optimistic that the bank may roll out fresh stimulus measures as it braces ahead of the April consumption tax hike from 5 to 8 percent and continues to target its inflationary target of 2 percent in two years.
They added that the market was also keenly eyeing earnings season in Japan that's set to kick off in about two weeks.
Analysts also pointed to the central bank keeping unchanged its overall economic assessment for the country that stated, "Japan's economy has continued to recover moderately, and a front-loaded increase in demand prior to the consumption tax hike has recently been observed."
The BOJ made its assessment and statement following the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting which started Tuesday.
Hideo Kumano, executive chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, said the central bank is increasing in confidence about hitting its inflation target within two years. He added that of great importance now is whether the BOJ will pull out all the stops to support the recovery once the sales tax goes up.
Following haphazard trade the yen finally retreated against the U.S. dollar to the mid-104 yen range and buying sentiment towards riskier assets returned, local traders said.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average added 25.00 points from Tuesday to end the day at 15,820.96, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange gained 3. 68 points, or 0.28 percent, to finish at 1,299.63.
Brokerage were notable gainers on Wednesday, with Daiwa Securities Group advancing 1.9 percent to 1,023 yen, while counterpart Nomura Holdings edged up 0.3 percent to close at 794 yen.
Tokyo Steel, an electric furnace steelmaker, climbed 5 percent to 592 yen, after returning to profit for the April-December period, on firm domestic demand and cost cuts. Peer Kyoei Steel Ltd. meanwhile gained 3.2 percent and Tokyo Tekko Co Ltd. added 1. 5 percent.
Electronic component maker TDK jumped 6.3 percent to 5,250 yen, following Nomura raising its target price for the stock from 4,900 yen to 6,300 yen, citing improvements to its core products.
Trading volume on Wednesday rose to 2.66 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, rising from Tuesday's volume of 2. 38 billion shares, with advancing issues outpacing declining ones by 851 to 759.