June 18, 2014 / 2:15 AM / 5 years ago

Nikkei edges up on Wall St, weak yen; financials track U.S. counterparts

* Financial shares top performers on strong U.S.
    * Market awaits Yellen's comment on rates

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, June 18 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
edged up on Wednesday morning, benefitting from gains on Wall
Street and a weaker yen which drove exporters higher.
    The Nikkei rose 0.3 percent to 15,023.83 in
midmorning trade after advancing a similar amount on Tuesday. It
is nearing a three-month high of 15,206 hit last week.
    Exporters were stronger after the dollar reached a one-week
high of 102.25, with Panasonic Corp soaring 2.9
percent, Nissan Motor Co adding 0.5 percent and Tokyo
Electron Ltd gaining 1.2 percent.
    A weaker yen lifts Japanese companies' competitiveness
abroad as well as their overseas profits when repatriated.
    Japanese financial stocks also rose in sympathy with their
U.S. counterparts after U.S. inflation data showed the consumer
price index increased 0.4 percent, double what economists had
    Japan's banking and securities 
sectors, which have underperformed the market by falling 10
percent and 16 percent respectively this year, were top
performers on the day. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group 
gained 1.2 percent, Nomura Holdings jumped 2.1 percent
and Daiwa Securities Group surged 1.6 percent.
    The financial sector suffered double-digit declines since
the beginning of the year, compared with the Nikkei's 7.8
percent loss.
    The U.S. data came before the Federal Reserve's two-day
policy meeting ends later on Wednesday, which will be followed
by Fed Chair Janet Yellen's news conference. 
    "Investors may not take large positions before they hear
Yellen's comments. The market is cautiously focused on any
mentions on the U.S. rates," said Takuya Takahashi, an analyst
at Daiwa Securities.
    He expects the Japanese market to gain further traction if
if her comments trigger a rise in the dollar/yen. Over the
medium term, the Nikkei could head towards 16,000, Takahashi
    The broader Topix gained 0.3 percent to 1,242.35,
while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.3 percent
to 11,306.97.

 (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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