June 12, 2018 / 6:43 AM / 6 months ago

Nikkei rises to 3-week high as U.S.-N.Korea summit fuels optimism

* Nikkei, dollar/yen rise to 3-week highs

* Defensive names up while semiconductors, gamemakers lag behind

* Trading subdued ahead of eventful week

* Investors await Trump-Kim summit results, Fed and ECB meetings

By Tomo Uetake and Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, June 12 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Tuesday, buoyed by optimism the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore could eventually pave the way to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

The benchmark Nikkei average advanced 0.3 percent to 22,878.35, its highest closing since May 22 and not far from its four-month intra-day high of 23,050.39.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a "comprehensive" document following a historic summit in Singapore, though there were no immediate details of the contents of the document before market close.

Traders said short-term money, such as event-driven funds and commodity trading advisers pushed prices higher, hoping that the two countries would find common ground on denuclearisation.

"Investors have priced in the possibility that the U.S. and North Korea would find some common ground," said Shogo Maekawa, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

"They don't expect that everything will be resolved at this summit but as long as investors confirm that two countries have found some common ground and will continue to have dialogue, the market will take this big event in stride."

Aside from the summit, he said the world's monetary policy takes centre stage as several major central banks meet this week.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is almost certain to raise rates again on Wednesday, inching closer to a neutral policy stance, while the European Central Bank is likely to signal on Thursday that it will start to roll back its 2.55 trillion euro bond purchase scheme this year.

The Bank of Japan also concludes a two-day meeting on Friday at which it is widely expected to keep its loose monetary policy intact.

Defensive stocks staged a rally, with railway operators and food companies outperforming, rising 1.8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

East Japan Railway jumped 3.0 percent, West Japan Railway gained 2.6 percent, and Yamazaki Baking climbed 2.6 percent.

Semiconductor-related shares lost ground after the Philadelphia Semiconductor index fell 0.2 percent, bucking the overall upward trend, on Monday.

Tokyo Electron fell 0.8 percent, while Shin-Etsu Chemical and Advantest Corp both declined 2.1 percent.

Other notable losers include gamemakers, with Square Enix , Bandai Namco and Capcom shedding between 2.5 and 4.9 percent.

"There have been no major positive surprises from the E3 gaming expo--which is letting investors down," said Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at Libra Investments, referring to the Electronic Entertainment Expo kicking off in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The broader Topix added 0.3 percent to 1,792.82, also hitting a near three-week high. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake and Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Sam Holmes)

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