January 4, 2018 / 2:59 AM / in 15 days

Nikkei gains as oil, securities shares shine

TOKYO, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rallied on the first trading day of 2018, with the Topix probing its highest levels since 1991 as securities and oil shares gained.

Catching up to overseas gains after the long Japanese New Year’s holiday, the Nikkei share average was up 2.5 percent at the end of morning trade at 23,326.06. The broader Topix added 2 percent to 1,853.07.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 460 to 151, with 59 issues ending unchanged.

In 2017, the Nikkei gained 19.1 percent and the Topix rose 19.7 percent, as the stronger global economy as well as domestic political stability and the Bank of Japan’s ultra-easy monetary policy underpinned Japanese corporate earnings.

The gains helped power brokerage shares, with the securities subindex up 3.8 percent. Nomura Holdings added 2.7 percent and Daiwa Securities Group was up 2.9 percent.

Surging crude prices boosted the oil & coal subindex by 3.6 percent. JXTG Holdings added 4 percent and Cosmo Energy Holdings was 6.8 percent higher.

Crude oil futures rose about 2 percent on Wednesday to their highest in 2-1/2 years, lifted by unrest in OPEC member Iran and strong U.S. and German economic data

Nintendo shares gained 4.8 percent. The Financial Times reported on Monday that game developer Niantic Inc plans to launch its blockbuster Pokemon Go augmented reality game, in which Nintendo has a stake, in China through a partnership deal with local company NetEase.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shares were 2.5 percent higher, after the head of the company’s aircraft unit said it was on track to deliver its repeatedly delayed commercial jet by mid-2020 despite risk of an order cancellation. (Reporting by Lisa Twaronite; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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