Tokyo stocks open flat
TOKYO–Tokyo stocks were almost flat in opening trade Friday after US central bank chief Janet Yellen reiterated her hopeful-but-watchful view on the economy, lifting US stocks but keeping the dollar in check.
The Nikkei-225 index was down 0.03 percent, or 3.91 points, to 14,919.20 in the first 20 minutes.
Speaking before the Senate banking committee, Yellen on Thursday acknowledged signs of softness in the economy.
The speech, taken as suggesting the Federal Reserve could shift its tapering policy if recent weaker data represented a fundamental change in growth, pushed the S&P 500 to an all-time high.
“The jury is still out on whether the cold weather is to blame … but (stock) markets’ interpretation of Yellen’s comments was positive,” said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.
The dollar eased after Yellen’s speech.
The greenback was 102.04 yen early Friday, compared with 102.15 yen in New York Thursday afternoon.
The euro bought 139.88 yen and $1.3704 against 140.05 yen and $1.3710.
Investor reactions were muted to a raft of Japanese government data released just before the stock market opened.
Data showed consumer inflation posted a year-on-year rise for the eighth straight month in January largely on higher energy bills. Factory output in January soared 4.0 percent on-month as companies ramped up production to meet consumer demand before a consumption tax hike.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.46 percent to 16,272.65 while the broad-based S&P 500 passed the previous high mark set in January with a gain of 0.49 percent to 1,854.29.