July 17, 2018 / 2:52 AM / 3 months ago

Nikkei up as exporter gains offset weakness in machinery stocks

* Nintendo soars after Colopl said it will release game for Switch

* Weak yen lifts exporters, including carmakers

* Machinery stocks tumble on concerns about China's economy

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, July 17 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose to hover at 3-1/2-week highs on Tuesday as a weak yen lifted exporters, offsetting weakness in machinery stocks hurt by weak Chinese economic data.

Japanese markets reopened after a three-day weekend due to a national holiday on Monday, with the Nikkei gaining 0.5 percent to 22,700.09 in midmorning trade, after rising as high as 22,752.03, the highest point since June 21.

The broader Topix advanced 0.8 percent to 1,744.32.

The dollar strengthened 0.2 percent against the yen to 112.41 yen, ticking up towards a six-month high of 112.80 yen on July 13.

The weaker yen boosted automaker shares. Toyota Motor Corp advanced 1.3 percent and Nissan Motor Co added 0.7 percent.

On the other hand, concern about the strength of China's economy put machinery makers under pressure. China reported on Monday that its economic growth slowed down in the second quarter and that factory output growth in June weakened to a two-year low, a worrying sign for investment and exporters as a trade war with the United States intensifies.

Yaskawa Electric tumbled 5.4 percent, Okuma Corp declined 3.6 percent and Fanuc fell 2.6 percent.

"The Nikkei may hit the 23,000-mark as the weak yen is lifting the mood, but the market is not supported by strong energy, it's just momentum," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities, adding investors are cautious about the risk of a slowdown in demand from China in the mid-to-long term.

Nintendo Co surged 3.8 percent after mobile developer Colopl Inc said it will release its 'Shoironeko Project' game for Nintendo Switch from 2020.

Nintendo said in January that it filed a lawsuit against Colopl last December regarding infringements of patents.

The lawsuit, which is asking for 4.4 billion yen in damages from Colopl, claims among other things that the game 'Shironeko Project" infringes upon Nintendo's patents in terms of the game's touchscreen controls.

"Colopl's announcement triggered speculation that the two companies will settle the ongoing lawsuit," said Makoto Kikuchi, chief executive of Myojo Asset Management. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa: Editing by Neil Fullick)

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