Roundup: Japan's Nikkei hits 2-month high on hopes for gov't travel program restart

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TOKYO, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index closed at a two-month high on Monday as energy stocks gained momentum and travel-related issues gained on expectations that the government will restart a subsidized travel campaign.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 154.32 points, or 0.56 percent, from Friday to close the day at 27,915.89, marking its highest closing level since March 30.

The broader Topix index, meanwhile, added 5.97 points, or 0.31 percent, to finish at 1,939.11.

Dealers here said that Tokyo stocks tracked their U.S. peers lower after declines on Wall Street late last week, as better-than-expected jobs data raised the prospect of further monetary tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

They added that Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Haruhiko Kuroda saying Monday that monetary tightening is not a suitable option for Japan considering its economic environment, stoked further concerns over the widening interest rate gap between Japan and the United States.

"Japan's economy is still on its way to recovery from the pandemic and has been under downward pressure from the income side due to rising commodity prices. In this situation, monetary tightening is not at all a suitable measure," the BOJ chief was quoted as saying.

But reports the Japanese government may be thinking about restarting its domestic "Go To Travel" subsidy program as early as this month, following a lengthy hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic here, lifted sentiment.

The news comes as Japan is set to ease its border controls and allow more foreign tourists into the country in stages from Friday, brokers here also highlighted.

"It raised expectations for tourism ahead of the country's reopening later this week, and is expected to be a positive factor for the economy. Air and land transportation issues were boosted by the reports," Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management, was quoted as saying.

By the close of play, oil and coal product, air transportation and land transportation issues comprised those that gained the most, and issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,029 to 713 on the Prime Market, while 95 ended the day unchanged.

Among energy issues finding favor on rising prices for crude oil, Idemitsu Kosan climbed 5.4 percent, while ENEOS added 4.8 percent.

Airlines and land transportation issues finding favor included, East Japan Railway advancing 4.4 percent, while Odakyu Electric Railway jumped 3.2 percent.

ANA Holdings rose 2.9 percent, while rival Japan Airlines climbed 2.3 percent.

Travel agency H.I.S., for its part, added 3.3 percent by the close.

On the Prime Market on Monday, 1,001.82 million shares changed hands, dropping from Friday's volume of 1,108.28 million shares.

The turnover on the first trading day of the week came to 2,322.37 billion yen (17.76 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem

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