April 9, 2019 / 6:38 AM / 14 days ago

Nikkei ends higher helped by tech shares; Sony jumps

* Report Japan to have new currency notes lifts some shares

* Recent strong Chinese econ indicators support underlining mood - traders

* Defensive stocks underperform

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, April 9 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei ended higher in choppy trade on Tuesday as tech shares and machinery stocks outperformed, while Sony jumped after Reuters reported that U.S. hedge fund Third Point was building up its stake in the company to push for changes.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.2 percent higher to 21,802.59.

The Nikkei was trading in negative territory earlier but it turned slightly positive thanks to a rally in cyclical stocks as recent strong Chinese economic data has supported sentiment, traders said.

They still expected the index to stay in a rangebound as investors wanted more clarity on the state of U.S.-China trade talks and remained cautious ahead a flood of corporate earnings. “The Nikkei has risen to a level where it needs more positive catalysts from companies’ earnings,” said Shogo Maekawa, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. “Companies need to show growth stories to convince investors that the Japanese market deserves further gains.”

On Thursday, Yaskawa Electric will start this month’s parade of earning reports for the year ended March 31. The automation equipment maker, whose shares gained 1.8 percent, is closely followed because it has large exposure to China.

The broader Topix shed 0.1 percent to 1,618.76, with defensive sectors such as utilities, real estate and construction underperforming.

Tokyo Electric Power Co tumbled 2.9 percent, Mitsui Fudosan declined 1.5 percent and Kajima Corp dropped 1.0 percent.

Tech shares, machinery and chip equipment stocks advanced after the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index rose overnight. TDK Corp surged 1.9 percent, Fanuc Corp soared 2.3 percent, Tokyo Electron advanced 1.0 percent and Advantest Corp jumped 3.9 percent.

Sony Corp shares jumped 9.3 percent after sources told Reuters that Third Point, which has about $14.5 billion in assets under management, is raising a dedicated investment vehicle to target between $500 million and $1 billion to buy more Sony shares.

Makers of currency processing machinery soared after local media reported that Japan is planning to introduce new 10,000, 5,000 and 1,000 yen bills. (here)

Electronic control equipment maker Takamisawa Cybernetics Co jumped 28 percent and currency processing machine maker Glory Ltd soared 7.9 percent.

NHK reported that the government’s decision to issue new banknotes comes before the start of the new Imperial era, Reiwa, on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the throne.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 1,318 to 705. (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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