Nikkei hits 1-week high on hopes for progress in U.S. standoff

Wed Oct 9, 2013 9:49pm EDT

* 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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