Tokyo stocks rise on Wall Street rally, softer yen; China virus fears still weigh

TOKYO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Wednesday as a Wall Street rally and weaker yen boosted investor sentiment, although worries over the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak capped gains.

The benchmark Nikkei average rose 1% to 23,319.56, while the broader Topix also added 1% to 1,701.83.

All but one of the 33 sector subindexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were in positive territory, led by fish and forest , insurance and mining.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq jumped 2.1% to a record on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 and the Dow advanced 1.7% each as investors took heart from China’s efforts to minimise the economic impact from the coronavirus epidemic.

The safe-haven yen nursed losses versus the dollar and was last at 109.45 yen, close to a 1-1/2-week low hit overnight, providing a tailwind for Japanese exporters. A weaker yen boosts corporate profits when they are repatriated.

Sharp Corp climbed 1.2% after the electronics company reported a 38.5% increase in third-quarter operating profit due to gains at its smart appliance division and cost-reduction efforts.

Panasonic Corp continued its advance, with the shares ending the morning session up 4.4%, two days after the electronics conglomerate said its automotive battery venture with Tesla Inc was in the black for the first time.

Sony Corp shed 0.5% in choppy trade after the company warned of an impact from the Wuhan coronavirus on its global supply chain, although the electronics company raised its annual profit outlook due to strong sales of smartphone image sensors.

Subaru Corp declined 0.4% after the automaker maintained its profit forecast for the year through March and said the firm is checking with China-based suppliers for potential disruptions to parts deliveries from the coronavirus outbreak.

Many traders doubted the recent rally is sustainable, noting the lingering concerns about the virus outbreak and its broader economic and market impact.

The death toll from the flu-like virus that originated in China’s central city of Wuhan has passed 490, as two U.S. airlines suspended flights to Hong Kong following the first fatality there and 10 cases were confirmed on a quarantined Japanese cruise ship.

Elsewhere, Mercari Inc jumped 3.9% after the e-commerce start-up announced the company and its subsidiary Merpay agreed to form a business partnership with NTT Docomo to enhance payment services and point programs. NTT Docomo Inc added 2.3%. (Reporting By Tomo Uetake; Editing by Bernard Orr)