By Kevin Buckland
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei 225 share average will continue its more-than-28% rally this year into 2024 to reach a three-decade high of 35,000 by end-June, according to analyst estimates in a Reuters poll.
All respondents forecast continued earnings growth, despite many also expecting the tailwinds from a weaker yen starting to dissipate with the Bank of Japan approaching the end of super-accomodative stimulus and the Federal Reserve tightening cycle peaking out.
The median forecast for the Nikkei’s level in mid-2024 was 35,000, with responses ranging from 31,143 to 39,500, the Reuters poll of 10 stocks strategists taken Nov. 10-20 showed.
Japan’s equity benchmark started this week by pushing to its highest level since March 1990 at 33,853.46 following a three-week winning streak.
The rally was partly driven by a robust earnings season, as the yen’s drop to a one-year low beyond 150 per dollar during the period boosted exporters’ profit outlooks and as companies passed on higher costs to consumers – something that would have been almost unthinkable pre-pandemic.
Masayuki Kichikawa, chief macro strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management in Tokyo, pointed to pent-up demand in both business investment and consumer demand, particularly for services, in forecasting the Nikkei to reach 39,500 in June and 40,900 by end-2024 – the most bullish forecasts in the survey.
“We are constructive mainly because we are optimistic about nominal GDP growth,” he said. “There is still room for equity prices to reflect the better picture in EPS growth.”
At the same time, Kichikawa and other respondents say the yen may have bottomed after pushing to the cusp of 152 per dollar earlier this month, amid expectations the Fed could begin cutting rates around May, while the BOJ may exit negative interest rate policy early next year.
That would mean some stagnation for equities in the latter half of next year, with the Nikkei still stuck at 35,000 at year-end, according to the median poll response.
IG’s Sydney-based analyst Tony Sycamore is among the most bearish – one of only two forecasters predicting a decline for the benchmark in the latter half of next year, from 35,000 to 33,000.
“35,000 looks to be about the level where Nikkei gains line up with the timing of the BOJ getting rid of negative interest rate policy,” Sycamore said.
“The Nikkei does still have the support of the BOJ being behind the curve,” he added. “But at some point early next year, they will need to do what needs to be done, and that will not be a great outcome for equities.”
(Other stories from the Reuters Q4 global stock markets poll package:)
(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Additional reporting by Junko Fujita and Noriyuki Hirata; Additional polling by Rahul Trivedi and Pranoy Krishna; Editing by Alex Richardson)