February 12, 2020 / 3:11 AM / 2 months ago

Nikkei gains as SoftBank Group jumps on Sprint-T-Mobile merger approval

TOKYO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Japan's stock benchmark Nikkei rose on Wednesday as index heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp surged after a U.S. federal judge approved a merger between its U.S. wireless unit Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc.

The benchmark Nikkei average was up 0.5% at 23,813.52 by the midday break, while the broader Topix fell 0.1% to 1,717.42.

SoftBank Group, the country's third-biggest company by market value, jumped 13.7% and was the most-traded stock on the main board after a U.S. judge approved a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, whose majority owner is SoftBank.

The deal would allow SoftBank Group, which reports its earnings after market close on Wednesday, offload a troubled asset at a time when its other major bets face investor scepticism.

The jump in SoftBank Group pushed up the information and communication sector sub-index 2.4%, making it the best-performing sector on the Tokyo bourse.

But more than two-thirds of the 33 sector sub-indexes were in negative territory, led by rubber products, electric and gas and construction.

Overnight, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq inched to their second consecutive record closing highs, while the Dow closed flat, as Chinese officials said the deadly coronavirus epidemic could be contained by April.

In contrast to the upbeat mood on Wall Street, many Tokyo-listed stocks were weighed down by worries of supply chain disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak in China, where the virus has claimed more than 1,100 lives.

Nissan Motor Co lost 1.1% after the automaker temporarily halted production at its plant in Kyushu, southwestern Japan, due to supply shortages of parts from China, as the outbreak starts to strain the global supply chain. (Reporting By Tomo Uetake; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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