October 11, 2019 / 7:12 AM / 10 days ago

Japanese stocks climb to 1-1/2-week high on trade optimism; Seven & I shines

SYDNEY, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose to their highest level in over a week on Friday as the safe-haven yen eased on hopes of progress in U.S.-China trade talks.

Sentiment was also buoyed by a sharp jump in Seven & I Holdings, the country's largest convenience store operator, after it announced a massive restructuring plan.

The benchmark Nikkei average ended up 1.2% at 21,798.87 points, its highest closing since Oct. 2. For the week, it was up 1.8%, its first gain in three weeks.

The broader Topix added 0.9% to 1,595.27, also marking its highest close in 1-1/2-weeks.

Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators wrapped up a first day of trade talks in more than two months on Thursday, as business groups expressed optimism the two sides might be able to de-escalate a trade war and delay a U.S. tariff hike scheduled for next week.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that his team had a "very, very good negotiation" with China, and reiterated his plans to meet with Liu at the White House on Friday.

Disruptions to global supply chains caused by the trade dispute, and the resulting drag on global demand, have weighed heavily on other export-reliant Asian economies such as Japan's.

Improved risk appetite pushed the safe-haven yen lower to 108.13 per dollar, its weakest since Oct. 1, provided a tailwind for Japanese exporters.

Toyota Motor rose 2.3% and Mitsubishi Motor 2.2% gained, while Panasonic firmed 1.9%.

As the retail sector's June-August earnings season got under way in Japan, notable movers include Seven & I Holdings and Fast Retailing.

Seven & I jumped 4.9% to its highest since late March after the convenience store operator announcing restructuring plans, including job cuts and store closures.

Nikkei-heavyweight Fast Retailing Co climbed 2.6% as the operator of Uniqlo chain booked a record annual profit for a third consecutive year on strong sales in China and forecast further growth in the current business year through August.

Bucking the trend, Yaskawa Electric Corp, a bellwether for manufacturing trends, dropped 0.7% after the motor and factory-robot maker slashed its full-year operating profit forecast.

Despite rising optimism about the U.S.-China trade talks, traders are reluctant to take positions ahead of the conclusion of the latest negotiations and a long weekend, market players said.

Financial markets in Japan will be closed on Monday for a public holiday.

Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore & Kim Coghill

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