Japanese stocks rallied, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average having its biggest weekly gain this year, after a government official said ministers are meeting next week to discuss steps to boost share prices.
Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd and Seven-Eleven Japan Co rose as some investors said they were focusing on companies that provided stable sales. Investors also sought companies such as Canon Inc and Honda Motor Co for their higher profit forecasts.
"There have been expectations in the market among some investors that the government may come up with a stimulus package soon," said Hisako Furuta, who helps manage the equivalent of US$38.4 million at ING Mutual Funds Management Co. She holds shares of Ito-Yokado Co, the parent of Seven-Eleven Japan.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.5 percent to 8152.16 at the 3pm close in Tokyo. The Topix index added 1.1 percent to 823.52, with drugmakers the biggest contributors to its gain. For the holiday-shortened week, the Nikkei rose 3.1 percent, its biggest weekly gain since the week ended Dec. 27. The Topix added 2.4 percent, its third gain in four weeks.
Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 2.1 percent. HSBC Holding Plc, the biggest foreign bank in China, led gains after it said 2002 profit from its mainland operations surged 31 percent. Taiwan's TWSE Index added 1.3 percent after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Quanta Computer Inc reported higher sales in April.
South Korea's Kospi index added 0.2 percent and Thailand's SET Index rose, while all other major benchmarks declined. China's stock markets remained shut.
Nikkei futures for June delivery rose 1 percent to 8130 in Osaka, and gained 0.9 percent to 8120 in Singapore.
Takeda Chemical, the nation's largest drugmaker, added 2.5 percent to Japanese Yen 4,540. Seven-Eleven, Japan's largest convenience store operator, rose 2.9 percent to Japanese Yen 2,995. Ito-Yokado rose 1 percent to Japanese Yen 2,990.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will hold a meeting of ministers early next week to discuss government measures to shore up the stock market, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said.
"We are discussing when to meet," Fukuda said at a daily press briefing, responding to a question if the meeting could be tomorrow.
The ruling three-party coalition and private sector members of Koizumi's key economic panel this week urged the government to spend more money from the state-run postal savings and insurance to buy shares.
Politicians on May 8 proposed measures, including investing more of the Japanese Yen 356 trillion (US$3.1 trillion) in the state-run postal savings and insurance systems to buy shares.
Japan Post, the nation's postal system that was privatized on April 1, won't increase stock purchases, said company President Masaharu Ikuta at a seminar in Tokyo.
Canon, Japan's largest maker of office equipment, rose 4 percent to Japanese Yen 4,950. The company last month raised this fiscal year's profit forecast by 17 percent to Japanese Yen 240 billion (US$2.05 billion) from its earlier forecast of Japanese Yen 205 billion.
Honda Motor, Japan's No. 2 automaker, rose 1.3 percent to Japanese Yen 4,060. The company last month said net income this year will probably rise 3.1 percent to Japanese Yen 440 billion.
The Hang Seng rose 183.11 to 9084.16 at the 4pm close in Hong Kong. The index's futures contract for May delivery rose 1.9 percent to 9061.