Nikkei rises 0.9 pct on earnings hopes, Fed policy support
* Hopes Fed tapering will be delayed to next year also positive - analysts * All of Topix 33 subsectors in positive territory * Nikkei could rise towards 18,000 by end of 2014 - fund manager By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose above 14,700 for the first time in three weeks, underpinned by a strong performance on Wall Street and expectations the Federal Reserve will delay trimming its economic stimulus programme. After last week's deal by U.S. lawmakers that ended a 16-day government shutdown, investors have started to speculate that the Fed will extend its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying stimulus into next year. The prospect of the easy money programme being retained for longer helped drive the Nikkei up 0.9 percent to 14,695.09 in mid-morning trade. It rose as high as 14,727.85 earlier, the highest since Sept. 27. On Friday, the S&P 500 closed at a record high for the second straight day helped by stronger-than-expected earnings from the likes of Google and Morgan Stanley. The improved earnings had a knock-on effect in Tokyo where analysts are also anticipating a solid profit season for Japan Inc. Toyota Motor Corp rose 1.0 percent, Panasonic Corp added 1.8 percent and Canon Inc advanced 0.8 percent. "Investors were reassured by strong earnings and the feeling that the U.S. economy is resilient raised their appetitive for risk," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities. The Topix advanced 0.5 percent to 1,212.07, with all of its 33 subsectors in positive territory. Other notable gainers included Suzuki Motor Corp, which jumped 2.7 percent after the Nikkei reported that the automaker is likely to have posted an operating profit of about 90 billion yen for the April-September period, up more than 30 percent on year. Market players said the Nikkei should gain further on expectations of strong second-quarter earnings and upgrade to profit forecasts for this fiscal year through March. The earnings releases will hit the market later this week. Masayuki Kubota, a senior fund manager at Daiwa SB Investments, said it may be difficult for the Nikkei to breach its May high of 15,942.60 this year, but expects the benchmark to advance a further 20 percent from its current level within the next 12 months. "On the assumption that the Nikkei will be bought on expectations that it will trade 15 times its projected earnings for the next fiscal year (through March 2015), I think it could rise towards 18,000 by the end of next year." The benchmark index is up 41 percent so far this year, buoyed by the Japanese government's aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus policies.