Nikkei extends gains, SoftBank jumps on Alibaba earnings

Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:55pm EDT

* Bargain hunting after heavy fall last week underpins
Nikkei
    * Market faces headwind from Ukraine, wobbly U.S. momentum
shares, doubts on BOJ policy
    * SoftBank jumps after Alibaba reports strong earnings

    By Hideyuki Sano
    TOKYO, April 16 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
rose on Wednesday after a better performance on Wall Street
overnight, with index heavyweight SoftBank soaring after a
strong earnings report from its Chinese e-commerce affiliate
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
     The Nikkei share average rose 1.8 percent to
14,246.65, extending its rebound from a six-month low around
13,885 hit earlier this month. The benchmark suffered its worst
weekly performance in three years last week
    "There was a fear last week that the market is sinking with
no bottom in sight. But such fears are ebbing as investors
started to buy large cap shares that have cheap valuations,"
said Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex Securities.
    However, concerns over escalating tensions in Ukraine, a
wobbly Wall Street and the absence of monetary easing from the
Bank of Japan have conspired to limit broad market gains.
    A batch of Chinese economic data, due at 0200 GMT, will also
be in focus as investors continue to fret about slowing growth
in the world's second-biggest economy.
     On Tuesday, U.S. stocks ended a volatile session higher,
lifted by gains in blue-chip firms though persistent weakness in
momentum stocks limited the Nasdaq's advance.
    The early spotlight in Tokyo fell on SoftBank,
which jumped 7.3 percent after Alibaba Group Holding
IPO-ALIB.N, in which it has a 37 percent stake, reported solid
 revenue growth in the fourth quarter, ahead of a highly
anticipated public offering.
    Bargain hunting also supported the market, reflecting the 
Nikkei's decline of more than 12 percent so far this year.
    Mining and metal companies with low price earnings ratio
benefited. Nisshin Steel rose 4.3 percent on the day
and has gained 10 percent in the past week. 
    Receding expectations of imminent monetary easing by the
Bank of Japan has been a drag on the market recently, with the
central bank's massive stimulus last April helping the Nikkei
surge 57 percent in 2013.
    BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda reiterated his bullish view on
the Japanese economy on Wednesday, following his comments
earlier this month that quashed speculation of near-term
stimulus to cushion the blow from a sales tax hike this month.
    
    The broader Topix rose 1.5 percent to 1,152.93, and
the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 1.5 percent to
10,492.01.

 (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)