(Bloomberg) — Mercari Inc., the online flea-market operator that has become one of Japan’s most closely watched tech ventures, is closing in on new highs as the stock has drawn both big and small money.

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The company has already grown to command the largest weighting on Japan’s startup-focused Mothers index as individual investors buy in — of some 230 of the largest Japanese companies with market value of over $5 billion, Mercari has the third-highest percentage of individual shareholders. Then on Oct. 7, Los Angeles-based money manager Capital Group declared it had taken a 5% stake in Mercari.

That’s helping propel the stock to near the 6,000 yen mark it hit just once, on the day it listed to great fanfare in 2018. After a rapid decline, the stock has worked its way back up this year, fueled by its first quarterly operating profit. That’s been helped by the coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted usage of its online marketplace where users buy and sell items.



graphical user interface, chart, histogram: Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop


© Bloomberg
Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop

Mercari fell 0.2% in Tokyo on Tuesday. A gain of just 3.3% in the next trading session would see it match the 6,000 yen high.

Mercari is something of a rarity in Japan, which has few tech startups that have swelled to the size of the $8.6 billion company, according to Ikuo Mitsui, a fund manager at Aizawa Securities Co., who is still bullish on the firm after the share surge.

“In Japan there are very few companies like this, light on assets and not requiring large-scale capex,” he said. That’s why many are piling onto the stock, he added.

It’s even more unusual for being a Japanese startup that is starting to see success on its app outside of its home

(Bloomberg) — Mercari Inc., the online flea-market operator that has become one of Japan’s most closely watched tech ventures, is closing in on new highs as the stock has drawn both big and small money.

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The company has already grown to command the largest weighting on Japan’s startup-focused Mothers index as individual investors buy in — of some 230 of the largest Japanese companies with market value of over $5 billion, Mercari has the third-highest percentage of individual shareholders. Then on Oct. 7, Los Angeles-based money manager Capital Group declared it had taken a 5% stake in Mercari.

That’s helping propel the stock to near the 6,000 yen mark it hit just once, on the day it listed to great fanfare in 2018. After a rapid decline, the stock has worked its way back up this year, fueled by its first quarterly operating profit. That’s been helped by the coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted usage of its online marketplace where users buy and sell items.



graphical user interface, chart, histogram: Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop


© Bloomberg
Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop

Mercari is something of a rarity in Japan, which has few tech startups that have swelled to the size of the $8.6 billion company, according to Ikuo Mitsui, a fund manager at Aizawa Securities Co., who is still bullish on the firm after the share surge.

“In Japan there are very few companies like this, light on assets and not requiring large-scale capex,” he said. That’s why many are piling onto the stock, he added.

It’s even more unusual for being a Japanese startup that is starting to see success on its app outside of its home country. The pandemic was a boon to its U.S. operations, which saw gross merchandise value (GMV) jump almost threefold in the quarter ended June from

(Bloomberg) — A share-price surge in Japan’s trading houses triggered by Warren Buffett’s $6 billion investment is already fading, due to a lack of fresh catalysts and a downturn in commodity markets.

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Shares of two of the five “sogo shosha” — as the commodity-centric Japanese conglomerates are called — are now trading at or below levels before Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. announced its stake purchase. The August announcement, among the largest-ever investments by Buffett in Japan, not only sparked a rally in stocks, but also boosted overall investor interest in the trading companies.

The failure of share prices to sustain the higher levels despite Buffett’s vote of confidence highlights the challenges faced by the shosha as the coronavirus pandemic erodes demand for commodities. It also speaks to the challenges for a Japanese equity market heavily weighted toward so-called value shares, with the benchmark Topix Index on track to lag the MSCI AC World ex-Japan Index for a fifth straight year in 2020.



chart, line chart: Japan's shosha are losing much of their Buffett-led gains


© Bloomberg
Japan’s shosha are losing much of their Buffett-led gains

Berkshire announced on the last day of August that it had bought stakes of about 5% in each of Itochu Corp., Marubeni Corp., Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co. and Sumitomo Corp. That saw shares of all five firms jumping, with Sumitomo gaining more than 9% on the day.

As of Tuesday, Itochu and Sumitomo have given up all or most of their gains since the announcement. Only Mitsubishi remains substantially higher — with a 7.8% gain since, versus a 2.6% advance in the Topix index in that period.

“The Buffett purchase gave investors a chance to review the shosha stock prices, but since then, they’ve been sold as sentiment wasn’t as strong as hoped for,” said Yoshihiro Okumura, a general manager at Chibagin Asset Management.

By Leika Kihara and Takahiko Wada

TOKYO, Oct 12 (Reuters)Japan must swiftly revise laws to allow the central bank to issue a digital currency, a move that could provide a chance to reform the Bank of Japan’s existing mandates and enshrine its inflation target, a senior ruling party official said on Monday.

Kozo Yamamoto, head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) council on financial affairs, said the BOJ risked being overtaken by private players who could launch their own digital currencies that could undermine the yen.

“If something too convenient pops up from the private sector, people might start to doubt whether they need yen as a currency unit. We must prevent this from happening,” he said. “This is fundamentally about protecting Japan’s currency sovereignty.

Yamamoto said he would prod the government and relevant agencies to speed up efforts to draft a revised BOJ law and other necessary legislation for issuing central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

However, more broadly, Yamamoto has been a vocal advocate of making changes to the BOJ law, which sets out the central bank’s mandates.

Revising the law to include digital currencies would also present a good opportunity to make other changes such as adding an inflation target and job creation to the mandates, much like the U.S. Federal Reserve, he added.

“The new law should also clarify that 2% inflation is the BOJ’s policy target,” he told Reuters.

The BOJ does currently set 2% as its inflation target, introduced in 2013. But the target is not stipulated under the BOJ law, which says only that its role is to ensure Japan’s price moves and financial system are stable.

Central banks globally have been reviewing their strategic goals, with the European Central Bank widely expected to follow in the footsteps

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese wholesale prices fell 0.8% in September from the same month a year earlier, data showed on Monday, marking the seventh straight month of year-on-year declines and heightening the risk the country will slide back into deflation.

Squeezed mostly by soft global demand for commodities and Japanese machinery goods, the weakness in wholesale prices highlights the challenge Tokyo faces in cushioning the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the world’s third-largest economy.

The 0.8% fall in the corporate goods price index (CGPI), which measures the price companies charge each other for their goods and services, was bigger than a median market forecast for a 0.5% drop. It followed August’s 0.6% year-on-year decrease.

Wholesale prices also slid 0.1% in September from August, marking the first on-month drop in four months, the data released by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) showed.

“With the global economy still reeling from the pandemic’s pain, the pace of its recovery remains modest. That will weigh on Japan’s wholesale inflation,” a BOJ official told a briefing.

The drop in wholesale prices adds to headaches for the BOJ, which frets that sluggish consumption, particularly for services, will push consumer inflation further away from its 2% target.

Core consumer prices – the BOJ’s key inflation measurement – fell 0.4% in August from a year earlier, marking their fastest year-on-year drop in almost four years.

The slew of soft price data may increase the chance the BOJ will cut its inflation forecasts at this month’s rate review, when it also conducts a quarterly review of its projections.

Japan suffered its biggest economic slump on record in the second quarter as the pandemic crippled demand. Analysts expect any rebound to remain modest as fears of a second wave of infections weigh on consumption.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing