Nikkei rises on Wall Street rally, softer yen; China virus fears weigh

TOKYO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Japanese shares climbed more than 1% on Wednesday as gains on Wall Street and a weaker yen buoyed investor sentiment, although the rally was limited by worries over the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The benchmark Nikkei average rose 1.2% to 23,350.00 by the midday break, while the broader Topix added 1% to 1,701.71.

All but one of the 33 sector subindexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were in positive territory, led by textiles non-ferrous metals and insurance.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq jumped 2.1% to a record high 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 109.48 yen, close to a one-week low hit on Tuesday, providing a tailwind for Japanese exporters. A weaker yen boosts corporate profits when they are repatriated.

Sharp Corp climbed 1.7% 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 share ending the morning session up 2.1%, two days after the electronics conglomerate said its automotive battery venture with Tesla Inc was in the black for the first time.

Sony Corp gained 0.4% in a choppy trade after the firm raised its annual profit outlook, due to strong sales of smartphone image sensors. However, it warned of an impact from the Wuhan coronavirus on its global supply chain.

Many traders doubted the 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. (Reporting By Tomo Uetake; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)