* Nikkei up 0.3 pct; Topix dips 0.1 pct in active trade
* Construction firms gain on hopes of infrastructure works
* Advantest surges on report of strong orders this qtr
By Dominic Lau
TOKYO, Dec 10 Japan's Nikkei share average hit a
seven-month high on Monday, buoyed by a jump in Chinese November
factory output and a better-than-expected U.S. jobs report,
although profit-taking in some exporters capped gains.
The Nikkei added 0.3 percent to 9,550.99 after
trading as high as 9,584.46, its best level since late April.
The gains almost took the benchmark back into "overbought"
territory, with its 14-day relative strength index at 69.96.
Seventy or above is deemed overbought, which often signals a
possible short-term pull back.
Growth in China's factory output and retail sales rose to
eight-month highs in November, boosting Japanese firms with
significant exposure to the world's second-largest economy.
Construction machinery makers Komatsu Ltd and
Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd both advanced 0.7
"You have some pretty decent comments coming out of the
Chinese macro number, which is always going to be a driver for
Japanese companies," a senior dealer at a foreign brokerage
Adding to the positive sentiment, U.S. employers created
146,000 jobs last month, defying predictions that superstorm
Sandy would deal a big blow to the labour market. But a steep
drop in U.S. consumer confidence in December, the largest fall
in more than 1-1/2 years, offered a cautionary note on the
health of the world's largest economy.
A 10.2-percent rally in the Nikkei over the past 3-1/2 weeks
was showing some signs of fatigue, as investors took gains in
some of the exporters, with Canon Inc, TDK Corp
and Honda Motor Co down between 0.4 and 2.1
During that period, the yen has weakened, boosting
exporters, after Shinzo Abe, the leader of the main opposition
which is expected to win a Dec. 16 general election, called for
the Bank of Japan to embark on "unlimited easing" and set an
inflation target of 2 percent.
Stefan Worrall, director of equity cash sales at Credit
Suisse in Tokyo, said some in the market were concerned that a
lot of the positive outcome had been priced in to the market and
it needed further positive news to push the index higher.
"It's kind of tired and needs more fuel to continue to rally
aggressively right through this week ahead of the election," he
But Worrall remained upbeat. "The little phenomenon that we
are seeing on the side is that China, which is such a negative
concern until a week ago, is beginning to show some encouraging
market rebound," he said.
ADVANTEST, FAST RETAILING RISE
Other notable gainers included Advantest Corp, up
5.5 percent after Bloomberg news quoted the chip tester maker's
President Haruo Matsuno as saying that he expected new orders to
rise 20 percent in the October-December quarter from the
previous three months.
Index heavyweight Fast Retailing Co Ltd put on 1.5
percent after Nomura Securities lifted its price target on the
owner of Uniqlo casual clothing chain.
The broader Topix dipped 0.1 percent to 789.41 in
active trade, with volume at 68 percent of its full daily
average for the past 90 trading days.
Japanese equities carry a 12-month forward price-to-earnings
ratio of 12.1, more expensive than the pan-European STOXX Europe
600's 11.1 but cheaper than the U.S. S&P 500's
12.5, data from Thomson Reuters Datastream showed.
The benchmark Nikkei is up 13 percent this year, in line
with a 12.8 percent rise in the S&P 500 but lagging a 14.2
percent gain in the STOXX Europe 600.