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Nikkei lifted by Wall Street highs as BOJ outcome awaited
July 20, 2017 / 2:56 AM / 3 months ago

Nikkei lifted by Wall Street highs as BOJ outcome awaited

* Major U.S. indexes close at record highs overnight

* BOJ expected to lift growth forecast, cut inflation outlook

* Jump in crude futures lifts oil stocks

TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average rose in morning trade on Thursday, buoyed by record highs on Wall Street though capped by caution ahead of the outcome of the Bank of Japan meeting.

The Nikkei was up 0.4 percent at 20,092.14 at the end of the morning session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite indexes all set record closing highs on Wednesday.

“There seems to some signs of euphoria in global stock markets, inspired by U.S. shares’ strong performance lately,” said Ayako Sera, senior market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust in Tokyo.

BOJ policymakers will conclude their regular meeting later on Thursday, at which they are expected to upgrade their economic growth forecasts but cut their optimistic inflation outlook, reinforcing expectations that it will lag well behind major global central banks in scaling back its massive stimulus programme.

A majority of economists polled by Reuters expect the BOJ to once again extend the timeframe in which it will achieve its 2 percent inflation target.

Economic data released earlier on Thursday showed Japan’s exports rose for a seventh straight month in June led by shipments of cars and electronics, an indication external demand continues to support a gradual economic recovery and backing the BOJ’s upbeat economic view.

At his post-meeting news conference (0630 GMT),Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is thought likely to remind markets of the BOJ’s resolve to maintain ultra-easy policy until inflation is sustainably above target.

The yen has been strengthening against the dollar in recent weeks, but it was off overnight lows on Thursday at 112.05 , retaking the 112-yen level and moving away from Wednesday’s three-week low of 111.55 yen.

Oil-related shares rose after crude oil futures jumped almost 2 percent to six-week highs following a U.S. report showing a bigger weekly draw than forecast in crude and gasoline stocks, along with a surprise drop in distillate inventories.

The oil and coal sub-index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 1.2 percent, as shares of Inpex rose 1.3 percent and Japan Petroleum saw its stock add 1.4 percent.

But shares of Idemitsu Kosan lagged its peers, rising 0.4 percent. The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal from founding family of the to block the company from issuing new shares.

Fujifilm Holdings soared 3.8 percent after the company said it would continue to develop its drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease and take it to phase 3 clinical trials. Phase 2 trials of the drug did not meet their “endpoints” (main objectives) but showed some effectiveness.

The broader Topix added 0.6 percent to 1,631.26, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also rose 0.6 percent to 14,501.95. (Reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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