Nikkei rises to 7-1/2-week high on strong global lead, weaker yen
* Nikkei trades above 14,600 for 1st time since May 24 * Blue-chip exporters lead gains on weaker yen * Nikkei may top 15,000 in early August - analyst By Tomo Uetake TOKYO, July 16 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose to a 7-1/2-week high on Tuesday morning, helped by gains in Wall Street and Asian equities, while a weaker yen also provided a boost to blue-chip exporters. The benchmark Nikkei rose 0.8 percent to 14,621.16, a level not seen since May 24, in mid-mornig trade. The broader Topix advanced 0.7 percent to 1,210.52. "As the upper house election and the corporate earnings season approach, there is no major reason to sell Japanese stocks at the moment," said Shun Maruyama, chief Japan equity strategist at BNP Paribas. He predicts the Nikkei may top the 15,000 mark in early August. China's annual GDP growth, released on Monday, slowed to 7.5 percent in the April to June quarter, in line with expectations. On the day, Asian stocks rose on relief that growth was not lower after a surprise fall in exports in June. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 on Monday finished at record closing highs for the third consecutive session. Tokyo was closed on Monday for a public holiday. "There are some signs of overheating in the market," said Kenichi Hirano, a strategist at Tachibana Securities. "Profit-taking can set in anytime, which can limit the Nikkei's upside." The yen weakened as low as 100.07 yen to the dollar in early Asian trade on Tuesday after reaching a two-week high of 98.20 on Thursday. The pair last traded at 99.85 yen, according to EBS data. Major blue-chip exporters led the gains on a softer yen. Panasonic Corp advanced 1.9 percent, while Nikon Corp and Daikin Industries both added 1.5 percent each. Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd advanced 1.8 percent after the Nikkei newspaper said the company was expected to report a quarterly record operating profit of around 70 billion yen ($701 million) for the three months ended June 30, up 300 percent on the year. Bucking the overall trend, index heavyweight Fast Retailing fell 1.8 percent. The benchmark Nikkei is up 41 percent this year, boosted by the Japanese government's sweeping stimulus aimed at pulling the world's third-biggest economy from two decades of stagnation.
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