September 26, 2019 / 7:27 AM / 5 months ago

Japan shares hold firm on trade hopes, Topix touches 9-1/2-month high

TOKYO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Japanese shares edged up on Thursday, tracking an upbeat Wall Street session, as investors welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump's hints of progress toward a trade deal with Beijing, with auto and China-related stocks leading the gains.

The benchmark Nikkei average added 0.1% to 22,048.24, while the broader Topix advanced as much as 1.0% to 1,635.88, its highest intra-day level since Dec. 5, and ended the session up 0.2%.

President Trump stoked trade optimism on Wednesday by saying China wants "to make a deal very badly" and an agreement to end a nearly 15-month trade war with China "could happen sooner than you think."

His comments pushed market concern about U.S. political risks into the background, a day after Democrat lawmakers said they will open an impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with his Ukraine counterpart.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 notched its biggest daily gain in two weeks, while the Dow and the Nasdaq also advanced on Wednesday.

In Japan, China-related issues led the gains, with Fanuc gaining 2.4%, Daikin Industries up by 1.5% and Komatsu adding 0.9%.

Automobile shares rallied after the head of Japan's car industry group said trade discussions between the United States and Japan were headed in the direction of avoiding auto tariffs and that it was good for both countries. Toyota Motor rose 1.1%.

U.S. President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a limited trade deal on Wednesday that staved off the threat of higher duties on Japanese cars exported to the United States.

Highly cyclical iron and steel and sea transport were among the best performing sectors of the bourse's 33 subsector indexes, up 2.4% and 1.1%, respectively.

Start-up firms also attracted buyers, with the Nikkei Jasdaq index rising for the 14th consecutive session to close up 0.2%. (Editing by Richard Borsuk and Darren Schuettler)

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