TOKYO, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The Nikkei stock index surged 2.07 percent Monday as investor sentiment was lifted by Wall Street's closing high on Friday, the yen's retreat versus the U.S. dollar and strong Chinese economic data.
Strategists here said that buying got off to a good start, boosted by a rise in U.S. shares, but more so by news that manufacturing in China expanded at the fastest pace in five months, with the Purchasing Managers' Index rising to 50.8 in May according to the he National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.
The figure came in above median analysts' expectations for a reading of 50.7, with any number above the boom-or-bust 50 line indicating expansion and lifting investor hopes that the world's second-largest economy is trending back towards health.
"The Chinese economy continues to show it's over the worst. The recovery in the Purchasing Managers' Index is a positive catalyst for Japanese shares. While U.S. data are mixed, the economy is generally trending toward recovery," said Shunichi Otsuka, general manager of research and strategy at Ichiyoshi Securities Co.
Other strategists concurred and said the expansion in factory activity in China was well-received here as a sign the Chinese economy continues to be a resilient powerhouse on a global level.
Ayako Terada, who works in the investment research department at Nomura Securities Co., noted that the data was taken as a positive cue by investors here and nullified lingering concerns about a slowdown in China's economy.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged 303.54 points from Friday to close at 14,632.38, while the Topix index of all first-section issues gained 19.06 point, or 0.06 percent, to close at 1,220.47, marking its highest close since March 11 and extending its winning streak to an eighth day.
Japanese issues also attracted buying following news of improving capital spending in the first quarter here, with the gauge rising 7.4 percent on year, according to official figures, and exceeding analysts' expectations.
With the U.S. dollar changing hands at around the 102-yen line, in twine with reports of increased capital expenditure, a broad range of issues attracted buying, with analysts like Toshikazu Horiuchi from Iwai Cosmo Holdings Inc. saying that the data confirms Japan's economy isn't in bad condition and share prices are still comparatively cheap compared to their overseas counterparts.
Toyota Motor Corp., the world's largest carmaker, accelerated 1. 1 percent to 5,822 yen on plans to invest some 500 billion yen in local facilities this fiscal year, while consumer electronics maker Panasonic will invest around 255 billion yen, sending its stock up 2.7 percent to close at 1,122 yen.
Toshiba, an engineering and electronics conglomerate, meanwhile, will pump 370 billion yen into its business this fiscal year, and its stock gained 1.4 percent to close at 423 yen on the first trading day of the week.
But insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance was among the day's notable decliners, slumping 5 percent to 1,433 yen, following reports the company is moving closer to taking over Alabama-based Protective Life Corp. for about 500 billion yen, which would be the largest- ever acquisition of its kind by a Japanese life insurer.
Analysts said that investors were concerned as to exactly how Dai-ichi plans to raise the funds needed for the purchase, with rumors of a fresh share issuance floating about, yet unconfirmed by the company.
Trading volume on Monday dropped to 2.03 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Friday's volume of 2.77 billion shares, with advancing issues outnumbering declining ones by 1,545 to 186.