REFILE-Nikkei rises to 3-wk high on China stimulus steps, solid U.S. data

Thu Apr 3, 2014 12:00am EDT

(Refiles to fix second bullet and add missing word in 8th
paragraph)
    * China stimulus steps lift construction machinery makers
    * Investor confidence on U.S. recovery returns - analyst
    * Sharp soars on strong smartphone panel demand report

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, April 3 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose to
three-week highs on Thursday morning, spurred by gains in
construction equipment makers on news China is taking steps to
stimulate its economy and on another set of solid data in the
United States.
    The Nikkei gained 0.8 percent to 15,069.16, after
touching a high of 15,086.73, its best mark since March 11.
    Construction equipment makers were big winners, soaring
after the Chinese cabinet on Wednesday said it will support the
economy by cutting taxes for small firms and announcing plans to
speed up the construction of railway lines. Worries of a
deepening slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy has
been a drag on global risk assets in recent months. 
 
    Komatsu Ltd surged 2.0 percent, and Hitachi
Construction Machinery Co gained 1.2 percent.
Industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp rose 1.1 percent.
    "The (China) announcement is lifting the mood because
investment expansion such as infrastructure investment would
pave the way for growth in consumption in the future," said
Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities.
     Sharp Corp outperformed, rising 3.1 percent and
was the eighth most traded stock by turnover after the Nikkei
reported that the company plans to raise China-bound shipments
of energy-efficient IGZO liquid crystal display panels for
smartphones to 5 million a month by year's end. 
     Tokyo stocks were also supported by a strong night on Wall
Street.  
    On Wednesday, the S&P 500 closed at another record high 
thanks to upbeat private-sector jobs and factory orders data,
indicating the economy has regained its poise after stuttering
due to an unusually cold winter. 
    "People's worries over the U.S. economic recovery are
receding with the melting of the snow," said Jun Yunoki, a
strategist at Nomura Securities. "They are regaining confidence,
and gradually the Nikkei's 15,000 level will turn it to a
support from resistance."
    Exporters benefited after the dollar rose to its highest in
over two months at 103.94 yen. Honda Motor Co 
gained 1.4 percent, while Nissan Motor Co rose 0.6
percent.
   The broader Topix rose 0.6 percent to 1,218.76. The
JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a gauge comprised of companies
with a high return on equity and robust corporate governance,
added 0.7 percent to 11,041.86.

 (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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