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The Japanese economy is slowly improving, the government says, pointing to evidence that exports and factory output are beginning to show signs of life. The upgraded economic assessment is the first upbeat report in two months. Additionally, Reuters Tankan survey showed a sixth consecutive month of improving manufacturer sentiment in Japan, as exporters cheer the weak yen. The index printed at 7, the first positive read in more than a year. The country's Economics Minister says the stage is set for a "V-shaped recovery." The rosy outlook was enough to boost the Nikkei (EWJ, DXJ)) 1.47% on the session.
Unexpectedly weak capital spending marred an otherwise decent Japan GDP report, weighing on the Nikkei (EWJ, DXJ), which fell 0.39% but still held onto the 15,000 level. The yen (FXY) was firm against the dollar for most of session, trading around ¥102, but has since lost ground, falling 0.40% to ¥102.60.
The Japanese bull market is too big of a deal to try and get cute, says Jeff Gundlach (video), advising not to try and time a market up 66% in 6 months. If QE is your reason for owning U.S. stocks, he says, why not pile into Japan (EWJ) where the asset purchase program is far larger? Maybe as leveraged as anything to the Japanese bull market is American ETF provider WisdomTree (WETF +3.5%), more than doubling this year as its hedged Japan equity fund (DXJ) reels in billions in assets.
The Nikkei (EWJ, DXJ) soared another 2.3% overnight to top 15K for the first time since 2007 as the yen (FXY) slid 0.3% to a new multi-year low of ¥102.65. Leading was Sony (SNE), up 10% following Dan Loeb's push for a breakup. Toyota (TM) paced the exporters with a 3.7% gain. JGBs (JGBL) were calm, the yield on the 10-year flat at 0.86%.
An early look at the BAML May fund manager survey shows hedge fund equity exposure (VTI) at the highest in 7 years, +45%. Commodity exposure (DBC) is a negative 29%. Cash is at 4.3%. Sectors: It's a record-low exposure to energy (XLE) at -17%. Japan (EWJ, DXJ) at +31% is the highest in 7 years.
The yen (FXY) continues its slide , falling to a new four-and-a-half year low against the dollar, helping the Nikkei (NKY) post another triple-digit gain on the session, rising 1.2% to 14782, its highest level since January 2008. The weak yen comes on the heels of the G7's reportedly amicable meeting over the weekend, at which officials were generally supportive of the BOJ's policies and reiterated that Japan's goal is to fight deflation not engage in the targeting of exchange rates.
For the first time since April of 2009, the yen (FXY) fell through the 100-level against the dollar, helping the Nikkei rally nearly 3% on the session and almost 7% on the week. Japanese equities (EWJ) are now trading at levels last seen in January of 2008. Japanese capital flows data finally showed what many had been waiting for since BOJ Governor Kuroda's shot across the bow at deflation: an outflow, as Japanese investors became net buyers of foreign bonds.
Fears that flagging demand in the U.S. and Europe would weigh heavily on China's trade data didn't play out, as exports grew 14.7% in April, helping the country swing to a surplus of $18.16B after posting a slight deficit in March. The data surprised analysts, even as some say the numbers may be inflated: "This probably reflects some overinvoicing [as] it was inconsistent with cargo volumes," one economist tells WSJ. Nevertheless, the data serves to buoy regional markets as the Nikkei (NKY) continues its ascent in Japan, rising 0.74% to yet another new five-year record high.
In Japan, stocks (EWJ) come off a long weekend well-rested and promptly rally to near five-year highs as the Nikkei surges 3.55% on the back of Friday's strong U.S. jobs data. Meanwhile, Australia's central bank cut rates by 25 basis points, sending the aussie (FXA) down 0.6% to two month lows against the dollar.
The rally in Japanese equities is just getting started, Morgan Creek's Mark Yusko told a Grant's conference last week. Stocks there remain cheap by any number of metrics and, a bonus, companies have dealt with persistent deflation by relentlessly slashing costs - meaning strong profits on any incremental business. All that's needed is a little growth and "Abenomics" should cure that. DXJ +27.5% YTD.
Bumping its position in Japanese equities to 16% overweight from 6%, Credit Suisse says stock prices remain cheap, there is little constraint on how much the BOJ can pump, and it will do so until dollar/yen hits ¥110. Watch money pour into stocks, says CS, once pension funds and retail investors realize inflation is set to rise. EWJ +16% YTD.
After continuing to strengthen sharply in early trade overnight, the yen is back in full retreat, down more than 1% vs. the dollar which is now buying ¥97.88. Along with the big reversal came a big swing in the Nikkei, which fell more than 2% at one point, but closed down just 0.4%. FXY -1.1%, EWJ +0.6%, DXJ +0.5% premarket.
Satisfied fans of WisdomTree's Japan Hedged Equity Fund (DXJ) might have interest in a currency-hedged Japan fund doing even better (and now starting to garner serious assets), the DBJP. The difference is DBJP's cap-weighted approach which tilts it towards larger companies more likely to export and thus benefit off the plunging yen.
The Bank of Japan has started its new aggressive asset-buying program, saying it will acquire ¥1T ($10.3B) of Japanese government bonds with maturities of 5-10 years, and ¥200B of bonds with maturities exceeding 10 years. The purchases are part of the BOJ's plan to inject $1.4T into the economy in under two years. The Nikkei is +2.5% and yen is -1% vs the dollar.
The yen (FXY) tumbles another 1% vs. the dollar as a new report suggests the BOJ plans to move fast and move big with JGB purchases. Buying less than ¥93 moments before the BOJ announced aggressive new easing measures Thursday, the dollar this moment is worth ¥98.51. The Nikkei adds 2.8% in early Tokyo trade, giving it a middling 8.6% gain since Thursday.