Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Japan's Nikkei Stock Futures Rise on Yen, Buffett Debt Offer

By Masaki Kondo

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average futures jumped in Chicago after the yen weakened against the dollar and investor Warren Buffett offered to assume some liabilities from the world's biggest bond insurers.

U.S.-traded receipts of Advantest Corp., the world's biggest maker of memory-chip testers, added 1.1 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo yesterday. Honda Motor Co. rose 0.7 percent, while Mizuho Financial Group Inc. climbed 2.4 percent.

The yen weakened against the dollar to as much as 107.31 from the close of 106.99 in Tokyo yesterday. A stronger yen erodes earnings of exporters when converted into local currency.

``The halt of the yen's advance is beneficial for exporters and will spur investors to buy shares in high-tech companies and automakers,'' Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc., said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Nikkei 225 Stock Average futures expiring in March last traded at 13,235 in Chicago, up from the close of 12,990 in Osaka and 12,985 in Singapore yesterday. The Bank of New York Japan ADR Index, which tracks American depositary receipts of Japanese companies, climbed 1.6 percent.

Buffett, the world's No. 1 investor, offered to take on $800 billion of municipal liabilities from MBIA Inc., Ambac Financial Group Inc. and FGIC Corp., according to a letter to MBIA's advisers. Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service Inc. are reviewing their top ratings on Ambac after the insurer's failure to raise new equity pushed Fitch Ratings to strip its AAA rating from the company.

The Nikkei was almost unchanged at 13,021.96 yesterday, while the broader Topix index slid 0.1 percent to 1,286.10.

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