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Japan’s Nikkei rises as investors brace for BOJ decision

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TOKYO — Japan’s Nikkei share average advanced on Wednesday as investors awaited the Bank of Japan’s policy decision amid expectations of a possible policy shift, with drug makers and technology stocks lifting the benchmark stock index.

By 0151 GMT, the Nikkei had gained 0.7% to 26,311.99, while the broader Topix was up 0.37% at 1,909.91.

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The Japanese central bank is expected to announce the fate of its ultra-low policy after the conclusion of its two-day meeting later in the day.

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The BOJ last month shocked the markets by doubling the band for the 10-year JGB yield to 50 basis points either side of the 0% policy rate, sending the yen higher and stocks lower.

“Investors are afraid of market volatility after the BOJ announcement. But they also expect that markets are not going to swing as much as they did last time,” said Ikuo Mitsui, a fund manager at Aizawa Securities.

“The BOJ will have to shift its policy any way, given the rising prices in the country.”

Medical equipment maker Terumo rose 4.59% and lifted the Nikkei the most, followed by Chugai Pharmaceutical , which gained 3.83%. Air-conditioning maker Daikin Industries rose 1.21%.

Bucking the trend, Uniqlo brand owner Fast Retailing slipped 0.82% and chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron lost 0.22%

Financial stocks were weak, with the banking sector losing 0.34% and the insurance sector falling 0.3%.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc fell 1.7% and was the biggest percentage loser on the Nikkei. Life insurer Dai-ichi Life Holdings lost 1.22%. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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