Nikkei rises on earnings, all eyes on BOJ for easing hint

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Wednesday, supported by some upbeat domestic earnings guidance and gains in Wall Street shares, with investors looking to the Bank of Japan's ongoing policy meeting.

While few market players think the BOJ will ease its policy on Wednesday, many of them expect stimulus later in the year. They will be scrutinising the BOJ's economic report and Governor Haruhiko Kuroda's news conference for any hint on the timing.

The Nikkei rose 0.7 per cent to 14,391.04 after a market holiday on Tuesday. Wall Street shares have gained so far this week, helped also by strong earnings results.

Kyocera Corp gained 3.4 per cent after the ceramics manufacturer announced an upbeat outlook for the year to March 2015, citing firm demand for its smartphone and tablet parts.

Mitsubishi Electric rose 3.3 per cent after giving optimistic guidance, in which it said it expected record revenue and net profit in 2014/15.

Carmakers led the gains after the yen hit three-week low versus the dollar, with Toyota Motor rising 1.9 per cent and Honda Motor 1.8 per cent.

"I think the market will be supported around the current levels. Even when some companies miss market expectations, their share prices do not necessarily fall because the valuation has become reasonable," said Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex Securities.

Since the start of 2014, the Nikkei has dropped 11.5 per cent, making it the worst performer among major markets.

The Nikkei looks set to post its fourth straight month of losses in April, having fallen 2.8 per cent so far, which would be longest such streak since 2008.

That partly reflects profit-taking after an outsized gain of 57 per cent last year, but the weakness stems also from receding expectations of BOJ easing and growing frustration over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's lack of progress in implementing structural reform.

Some speculators had bet that Kuroda would unveil stimulus as early as this month to counter the effect of sales tax hike that kicked in on April 1, but his bullish comments on the Japanese economy has quashed such speculation.