Nikkei rebounds as exporters gain on renewed yen weakness
* Gains will likely stay moderate - analyst * Exporters' earnings will be in focus - fund * IHI soars on report to mass produce flu vaccine By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose on Wednesday morning, recouping some of the sharp declines of the past three days, led by gains for exporters as the yen resumed its weakening trend after US stocks and gold prices rebounded. The Nikkei rose 1.0 percent to 13,355.32 at the midday break after declining 2.4 percent over the past three sessions. It now stands 1.6 percent below a nearly five-year high of 13,568.25 tapped last week. Wall Street's more than 1 percent rise on an improved outlook for corporate earnings and expectations of continuing monetary stimulus also helped bolster sentiment. The broader Topix gained 1.1 percent to 1,131.76. "After seeing a pull-back, there is an opportunity for buying on the dips," said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities. Among exporters, Toyota Motor Corp gained 1.5 percent, Sony Corp added 1.8 percent and Komatsu Ltd advanced 1.8 percent. The dollar last traded at 98.25 yen, having bounced off from a near two-week low of 95.67. It was still down more than 2 percent from a four-year high near 100 yen set last week. Miura believes the broad market gains will likely remain moderate amid uncertainty about the direction of the yen ahead of a meeting on Thursday of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 leading economies. "People are also nervous about volatility in commodity prices, so a lot of them are taking a wait-and-see approach," Miura said. Gold prices jumped after its record daily drop in dollar terms on Monday. On Wednesday, IHI Corp surged 4.8 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported that the company will start mass production of influenza vaccines as early as 2015 under a contract manufacturing arrangement with Astellas Pharma Inc. . Nomura Holdings Inc, however, fell 1.2 percent and was the most traded stock by turnover after Italian prosecutors ordered the seizure of 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of assets from the brokerage as part of a fraud investigation. EARNINGS OF EXPORTERS WILL BE IN FOCUS The benchmark Nikkei has rallied more than 8 percent since the April 4 announcement of a sweeping stimulus campaign from the Bank Of Japan, which plans to inject $1.4 trillion into the world's third-largest economy in less than two years. The index has risen more than 50 percent since Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe called for aggressive monetary and fiscal expansionary policies last November. During that term, both exporters and reflationary stocks such as real estate and banks have led the gains. "For exporters, their earnings details will likely be scrutinized," when their results start filtering out later this month, said Makoto Kikuchi, the chief executive of Myojo Asset Management. "Exporters have gained mainly on expectations for stronger forecasts, but investors will be also seeing if their core businesses have improved, not just weak-yen factors." He prefers automakers to electronics, and said that if their earnings meet market expectations and the U.S. economy shows a steady recovery, the stocks have further upside.
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