Nikkei retreats from 6-1/2 week high after dismal China data

Tue Jul 9, 2013 11:39pm EDT

* Nikkei rises 0.1 pct, Topix up 0.3 pct
    * Weak China trade data dents early gains

    By Tomo Uetake
    TOKYO, July 10 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average eased on
Wednesday from a 6-1/2 week high hit earlier in the session
after unexpectedly weak Chinese trade data heightened concerns
about growth in the world's second-largest economy and one of
Japan's top export markets.   
    The benchmark Nikkei rose 0.1 percent to 14,489.90
by the midday break in a choppy session. The index advanced as
much as 14,555.33, a level not seen since May 24, on the back of
gains in U.S. stocks as investors bet that companies will be
able to surpass the low bar set for the earnings season. 
    China's exports fell 3.1 percent in June from a year
earlier, the first decline since January 2012, while imports
dropped 0.7 percent, severely missing market expectations.
 
    The Nikkei China 50 index, which comprises 50
companies with significant exposure to China, also surrendered
some of its gains after the trade data.
    Market participants said they expected Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe's aggressive economic reform policies to prop up Japanese
equities in the face of the worries about China's economy and
the U.S. Federal Reserve's plan to scale back its massive
stimulus programme within the next few months.
    "There are rising expectations of a revival in Japanese
shares as the Liberal Democratic Party is reportedly slated to
gain a majority on its own in the upper house election," said
Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist at Okasan Securities.
    "The BOJ is said to be considering saying that the economy
is recovering after its policy meeting."
    Abe, back in power after the Liberal Democratic Party's big
win in December elections, has been urging voters to back his
ruling bloc in this month's upper house election.
    The Bank of Japan is to conclude a two-day policy meeting on
Thursday, though analysts expect the central bank to stand pat
after it stunned financial markets on April 4 with its radical
monetary policy to pull the country out of persistent deflation.
    The broader Topix index added 0.3 percent at
1,200.08, with construction machinery maker Komatsu Ltd 
up 0.1 percent and industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp 
down 0.7 percent.
    The Nikkei faced resistance at around 14,600, the 61.8
percent retracement of its slide from May 23 to June 13, though
it is still up 17 percent since the BOJ announced its sweeping
stimulus and has risen more than 39 percent so far this year.
    Other notable gainers on Wednesday included Aeon Co Ltd
, up as much as 3.8 percent to a near three-month high
of 1,431 yen after the supermarket chain operator reported a
record operating profit for the first quarter ended May
31.
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