* Strong earnings offset weak U.S. housing data
* Market focused on FOMC, U.S. jobs data this week
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, July 29 Tokyo stocks rose to a fresh
six-month high on Tuesday morning, as strong earnings from the
likes of Nissan Motor Co suggested Corporate Japan has
managed to weather a recent rise in the national sales tax.
The Nikkei gained 0.5 percent to 15,612.66 in
mid-morning trade, the highest level since January 23.
Nissan jumped 4.5 percent and was the second-most traded
stock by turnover after the automaker's April-June operating
profit rose a higher-than-expected 13.4 percent to 122.6 billion
yen ($1.20 billion).
Market players said that investors were trading on
individual news, mainly linked to Japan's earnings season as
they gauge the impact of a national sales tax hike in April.
"We are focused on whether manufacturers have ridden out the
impact of the April tax hike, and there are signs that the
prospects for companies aren't too bad," said Hiromichi Tamura,
chief strategist at Nomura Securities.
Some analysts have worried that the tax hike could derail
Japan's economic recovery, though recent data indicate the
impact on growth has been smaller-than-feared.
Measuring instrument maker Keyence Corp jumped 5.0
percent after its operating profit for the April-June period
soared 34.6 percent to 36.4 billion yen.
Industrial robort maker Fanuc Corp took a breather
following a strong run after reporting upbeat quarterly earnings
last week. The stock was off 0.4 percent.
The signs of improved domestic earnings offset concerns over
soft economic data from the United States.
On Monday, an index of pending home sales in the U.S.
unexpectedly fell 1.1 percent in June, the National Association
of Realtors said.
"The market is not overly worried about yesterday's weak
U.S. housing data. The main event investors are focused is U.S.
jobs data and how its long-term interest rates move," said
Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities.
"If strong jobs data boosts the dollar to rise well above
102 yen, we may see more buying in global cyclical exporter
stocks in Japan," he said.
The dollar traded at 101.85 yen on Tuesday morning.
Exporters were mixed, with Hitachi Ltd rising 1.4
percent, Toshiba Corp shedding 0.9 percent, and Toyota
Motor Corp rising 0.1 percent.
The broader Topix rose 0.3 percent to 1,289.83,
while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 0.3 percent to
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)