September 28, 2018 / 3:18 AM / 2 months ago

Nikkei scales 27-year highs as investors raise bets on Japan Inc

* Nikkei has risen 1.3 pct for week

* Nikkei on track to post biggest monthly gain since last Oct

* Rising freight charges lift shippers

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rallied to near 27-year highs after risk appetite bounced on the back of confidence in the U.S. economy, while hopes of improved earnings for Japan Inc. underpinned sentiment.

The Nikkei share average jumped 1.7 percent to 24,202.40 at the midday break, trading above 24,129.34 hit on Jan. 23, the highest level since November 1991.

The benchmark index has risen 1.3 percent for the week so far, poised to post three straight weekly gains.

For the month, it has gained 5.8 percent, on track to post the biggest monthly gain since last October, on the earning hopes and partly as rising U.S. yields helped lift shares of financial firms, which hunt for high-yielding products such as foreign bonds.

The dollar-yen level - which traded above 113.47 to hit a fresh nine-month high ealier on Friday - is raising hopes for a brighter earnings for Japanese companies as a weaker yen boosts manufacturers’ profits made abroad when repatriated.

The weaker yen and an upbeat U.S. economy have helped exporters rally, with Nintendo Co soaring 1.7 percent, Subaru Corp rising 2 percent and Kyocera Corp advancing 1.2 percent.

Analysts said that foreign investors, who have been net sellers this year, are buying back Japanese stocks to catch up with the gains in the U.S. market, where both the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average have hit all-time highs this month.

“There are many companies which have based their foreign currency expectations at 105 yen this year so there are hopes that companies may revise up their forecasts,” said Shusuke Yamada, chief Japan FX and equity strategist at Bank Of America Merrill Lynch.

The broader Topix advanced 1.1 percent, with all of its 33 subsectors in positive territory.

Other winners include shippers after the baltic dry index , or freight charges, rose 1.4 percent overnight. Mitsui OSK Lines surged 1.8 percent and Kawasaki Kisen soared 1.9 percent.

Going south, Panasonic Corp, which provides batteries for Tesla Inc, dropped for a third day and was 0.5 percent lower after the top U.S. securities regulator on Thursday accused Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk of fraud.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sought to remove him from his role in charge of the electric car company, saying he made a series of “false and misleading” tweets about potentially taking Tesla private last month. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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