Japanese shares ended higher on Thursday, with the Nikkei touching a 30-year peak, powered by financials as U.S. bond yields climbed on hopes of larger stimulus following a Democrat sweep in two Senate runoffs in Georgia.
The broader Topix added 1.68% to 1,826.30, climbing above a peak hit late last year to reach its highest level since October 2018.
Investor appetite was not dented by the chaos in Washington D.C. after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed Capitol Hill, forcing Congress to suspend a session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
“That seemed like the ultimate epitome of four years of Trump’s presidency. But no one thinks the election results will be overthrown by this,” said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex.
Sharp rises in U.S. bond yields boosted shares of Japanese banks and insurers, big investors in U.S. debt.
Insurer Dai-ichi Life Holdings rose 7.4%. Among banks, SMFG gained 5.5%, while Mizuho added 3.3% and Mitsubishi UFJ rose 3.5%.
Other cyclical, value shares also gained on hopes of a stimulus package from the incoming Biden U.S. administration.
Steelmakers gained 5.2%, with Nippon Steel rising 7.8%. Shipbuilder Hitachi Zosen surged 13.7%.
Overall, Japan’s economy shrank 4.8% last year, less than the 5.3% that the International Monetary Fund had forecast. For comparison, the US economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020, while Germany saw its GDP contract by about 5%.
“The solid [performance] confirms the economy continued to recover from its pandemic-induced decline,” Stefan Angrick, senior economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a research note.
“However, high-frequency data show that momentum started to wane in December amid a pick-up in Covid-19 cases.”
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