April 2, 2014 / 1:40 AM / 4 years ago

Nikkei hits 3-wk high on US data, Renesas jumps on Apple report

* U.S. data lifts foreign investors' risk appetite - traders
    * Renesas at 3-yr high, Apple reportedly in talks to buy
unit stake
    * Kyushu Elec dives, said to be seeking capital injection

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, April 2 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
bounced back to a three-week high on Wednesday, tracking gains
on Wall Street, while Renesas Electronics Corp jumped
on a report that Apple is in talks to buy its stake in a chip
design unit.
    Renesas soared as much as 19 percent to 934 yen - its
highest since March 2011 - after the Nikkei business daily said
Apple Inc is in discussions to buy its stake in a unit
that designs liquid crystal display chips for iPhones for about
50 billion yen ($483 million). 
    The Nikkei was up 1.5 percent at 15,011.68 in
midmorning trade after rising as high as 15,021.12, its highest
level since March 11.
    Market participants said investors took heart from positive
U.S. data on factory activity, which signalled that economic
growth was gaining traction following a harsh winter.
    The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of
national factory activity rose to 53.7 in March, its second
straight monthly acceleration. 
    "The market is cheering a sign of recovery in the U.S.
economy, and foreigners who sold last week are chasing the
market higher," said Shigemitsu Tsuruta, a senior strategist at
SMBC Friend Securities.
    The dollar bought 103.66 yen, having hit a 3-1/2 week
peak of 103.71, lifting exporters including makers of cars and
electronics. Toyota Motor Corp rose 1.2 percent and
Tokyo Electron Ltd gained 3.5 percent.
    A weaker yen can increase Japanese firms' competitiveness
abroad as well as their overseas profits when repatriated.
    On the downside, Kyushu Electric Power Co tumbled
6.5 percent to a two-month low after a source told Reuters that
the utility is seeking a capital injection worth 100 billion yen
from the state-owned Development Bank of Japan. 
    Hokkaido Electric Power Co had similarly dived on
Tuesday after a source said that utility was asking the DBJ to
buy 50 billion yen worth of preferred shares in the company.
    The electric and gas subsector extended its
decline into a second day, down 0.9 percent and becoming the
worst-performing sector.
    The broader Topix rose 1.3 percent to 1,220.01. The
JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a gauge comprised of companies
with a high return on equity and robust corporate governance,
added 1.3 percent to 11,037.98.

 (Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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