September 2, 2014 / 2:15 AM / 3 years ago

Nikkei rises to 4-1/2 week high on weak yen, reform hopes

* Reform hopes on Shiozaki helps stock market sentiment -
    * Strong department store sales supports retail stocks

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose
to a 4-1/2-week high on Tuesday morning as the yen slipped to a
seven-month low against the dollar, sending exporters higher on
hopes of a boost to earnings.
    The Nikkei gained 1.1 percent to 15,639.72 in
mid-morning trade, the highest level since July 31.
    A planned cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
also supported sentiment, traders said.
    The Nikkei business daily reported that Abe has decided to
bring Yasuhisa Shiozaki, a veteran Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) and vocal proponent of overhauling Japan's Government
Pension Investment Fund, for the labor and welfare minister
    "Shiozaki is seen taking an important role for Abe's growth
strategy," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho
Securities. "If he speeds up the pension fund's reform plan, it
would be good for the stock market."
    GPIF is finalising plans to boost the weighting of domestic
stocks in its portfolio to more than 20 percent from a current
12 percent target, people involved in the review told Reuters
last month. 
    On Tuesday, exporters benefited from the weaker yen, with   
  dollar rising to a high of 104.64, its strongest mark
since mid-January. 
    Toyota Motor Corp rose 1.1 percent, Toshiba Corp
 added 1.4 percent and Fanuc Corp advanced 1.9
    A weak yen sharpens Japanese exporters' competitiveness
abroad and lifts their profits when repatriated.
    Department store operators also gained after their monthly
sales in August rose for the first time since the sales tax was
raised to 8 percent from 5 percent in April. Takashimaya Co
 rose 1.0 percent, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings 
jumped 1.8 percent and J.Front Retailing Co soared 3.1
    The broader Topix rose 0.9 percent to 1,294.52, and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 1.0 percent to

 (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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