TOKYO, July 28 (Xinhua) -- The Nikkei stock index gained 0.46 percent Monday to a fresh six-month closing high, as a firm U.S. dollar against the yen coupled with positive hopes for earnings season spurred buying in later trade.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 71.53 points to finish at 15,529.40, while the broader Topix index of all first-section issues added 0.37 percent, or 4.72 points, to close at 1,286.07.
Local brokers said that domestic share valuations were still considered comparatively cheap and once an initial round of selling was completed in the morning session, investors looked to buy on dips and to snap up issues reporting robust earnings.
Koichi Kurose, chief market strategist at Resona Bank Ltd., noted that Japanese shares are reasonably priced, meaning they react a lot to good news. He added that earnings reports had been both good and bad and issues here are reacting accordingly.
Other analysts said that dip buying was underpinning the market Monday and some investors were seen to hit the sidelines in later trade as earnings season here begins to swing into top gear.
Hiroichi Nishi, assistant general manager of equity research at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said that investors buying on dips underpinned the market and that purchases were also being made based on hopes for further rises for corporations reporting in the coming fortnight.
The U.S. dollar fetching 101.84 yen in currency trading today, compared to 101.83 yen in New York on Friday, was a boon for some issues, especially exporters, as a protracted weaker yen against its major counterparts ensures that issues widely exposed to overseas markets become more competitive and see a boost in profits when repatriated.
Nissan accelerated 0.81 percent to 1,001 yen, while Isuzu Motors advanced 2.75 percent to 708 yen, following reports the company's operating profit will come in ahead of market expectations.
Consumer electronics giant Sony added 0.39 percent to 1,798 yen, following the firm announcing it plans to sell its headquarters in Tokyo to its affiliate, Sony Life, for 52.8 billion yen.
Camera and copier maker Canon also closed in positive territory Monday, edging up 0.17 percent to close at 3,415 yen, following the firm reporting Thursday its half-year net profit leapt 19.6 percent from the same period a year ago.
But it was banking issues that comprised the day's best performing sector, with Resona Holdings rallying 5.4 percent to 609 yen, after its said Friday it will finish paying back a government loan of 2 trillion yen this week.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group gained 1.6 percent to 4,160 yen and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose 1.9 percent to close the day at 606 yen.
Retailer Aeon was in the spotlight Monday, gaining 1.9 percent to 1,179 yen, following reports it plans to compile a database of more than 400,000 foreign and domestic employees to put its workforce to better use.
NTT Docomo was another notable gainer on the first trading day of the week, advancing 1.6 percent to 1,844 yen, following Nomura increasing its rating on the stock from "neutral" to "buy" and raising its target price for the firm's stock from 1,650 yen to 2, 080 yen.
Hitachi Chemical surged 9.5 percent to 1,860 yen, marking the firm's highest gain in more than three years, following the company announcing its first-quarter profit was 6.5 billion yen, around 1 billion yen higher than median analysts' expectations. News that the firm plans to slash 1,000 jobs and boost its half- year net-income forecast to 12 billion yen from 11 billion yen, also made the stock an attractive purchase, brokers said.
Trading volume on Monday dropped to 1.93 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Friday's volume of 2.09 billion shares, with advancing issues outnumbering declining ones by 1,009 to 623.