April 10, 2018 / 6:26 AM / 13 days ago

Nikkei climbs to near 1-month high after Xi's speech lifts mood, automakers

TOKYO, April 10 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose to a near one-month high on Tuesday, led by automakers after Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to lower import tariffs on products including cars, indirectly addressing some of the U.S. concerns that have sparked a trade row between the world’s two biggest economies.

The comments come following a week of escalating tariff threats amid U.S. frustration with China’s trade and intellectual property policies, rattling financial markets worrying over potential damage to global growth.

The Nikkei rose 0.5 percent to 21,794.32, the highest closing level since March 15, but off an intraday high of 21,933.99.

The market opened lower but rose after Xi’s speech in which he also said China would raise the foreign ownership limit in the automobile sector “as soon as possible” and push previously announced measures to open the financial sector.

“He spoke in more details than the market had expected,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities. “The market was focused on mention about some sectors including auto and finance, and he seems to have delivered enough details to satisfy investors.”

The transport equipment sector gained 1.4 percent, with Toyota Motor Corp up 1.4 percent, Honda Motor Co jumping 2.6 percent and Mazda Motor Corp gaining 0.8 percent.

Companies with large exposure to China also staged a rally.

Industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp advanced 3.3 percent, machine tool maker Okuma jumped 4.0 percent and construction machinery maker Komatsu rose 2.9 percent.

The broader Topix gained 0.4 percent to 1,731.94. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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