Nikkei hits 1-week high on hopes for progress in U.S. standoff
* Exporters regain ground as yen weakens vs dollar * Earnings could lift Nikkei above 15,000 later this year - strategist By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average climbed to a one-week high on Thursday, buoyed by hopes for progress in the U.S. fiscal standoff, as President Barack Obama invited Republicans and Democrats to search for a way to end the government shutdown and raise the debt limit. The Nikkei was up 0.8 percent at 14,147.60 in midmorning trade after rising as high as 14,152.77 earlier, its highest since Oct. 3. The gain followed a 1 percent rise on Wednesday. Bellwether exporters were in demand after the dollar rose against the yen to 97.53, up about a full yen from two-month low of 96.55 yen hit on Tuesday. Honda Motor Co gained 1.3 percent, Nissan Motor Co advanced 1.8 percent and Nikon Corp added 0.5 percent. In the latest Washington developments, Republicans and Democrats floated the possibility of a short-term increase in the debt limit to allow time for broader negotiations on the budget. Obama began inviting lawmakers from both parties to the White House for meetings to discuss the government shutdown and raising the debt limit. "It's a step forward for the market to resume risk-taking, though we are not too optimistic," said Isao Kubo, an equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management. "Investors are cautiously buying back." The impasse has shut the U.S. government for nine days and rattled global financial markets with the threat that the country's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit will not be raised before an Oct. 17 deadline. The Nikkei dropped to a five-week low early this week. Among notable movers, Taiko Pharma soared 4.7 percent after the drugmaker raised its earnings outlook for the six months ended September. "Macro long-short funds are active recently. With the second-quarter earnings announcements just around the corner, they will likely pick up companies announcing higher forecasts in the next month or so," said Masanaga Kono, senior strategist at Amundi Japan. He added that the Nikkei would likely trade above 15,000 if earnings impress the market.
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