July 28, 2014 / 3:22 AM / in 3 years

Nikkei hits 6-mth high on earnings hopes; casino plays outperform

* Nikkei advances 0.5 pct, Topix up 0.4 pct
    * Expectations for domestic earnings lift market
    * Casino-related shares jump

    By Tomo Uetake
    TOKYO, July 28 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average rose to
six-month highs on Monday, and looked poised to test key
resistance levels around 15,500 points, on hopes of continued
improvement in corporate earnings.
    By the middday break, the benchmark Nikkei was up
0.5 percent at 15,530.29, its highest level since Jan. 23,
reversing early losses that followed Friday's weakness on Wall
    Still, the index is down 4.7 percent since the start of this
year following a record-breaking 57 percent rally in 2013,
buoyed by Tokyo's aggressive stimulus policies.
    This week will mark the first peak week of the April-June
quarter earnings season. Nissan Motor Co Ltd will be
the highlight when it reports its results later in the day.
    Nissan rose 0.2 percent, Toyota Motor Corp added
0.7 percent, and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd - which
makes Subaru cars - climbed 0.7 percent.
    "Strong results from automakers could help the Nikkei rise
above resistance of around 15,500, and quickly push toward
16,000, possibly by the end of August," said Ryota Sakagami,
chief equity strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.
    Since mid-June, the Nikkei has had a few unsuccessful
attempts to rise above the 15,500 level. 
    Traders say a cluster of barrier options, which are related
to equity-linked bonds, are one of the reasons why the benchmark
has not been able to rise above that level. 
    "There are some potential signs of encouragement for the
rally to resume once we get through the uncertainties of first
quarter earnings," said Stefan Worrall, director of equity cash
sales at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.
    Casino-related stocks, such as Konami Corp and Fuji
Media Holdings Inc, benefited from a report by the
Nikkei paper that casino openings in Japan could come before the
2020 Summer Olympics.
    Konami, which has expressed interest in operating casinos in
Japan, added 1.9 percent, while Japan Cash Machine Co Ltd
, a maker of coin-counting terminals used in casinos,
jumped 5.3 percent. 
    Pachinko machine maker Universal Entertainment Corp 
gained 2.5 percent and Fuji Media, a broadcaster headquartered
in a section of Tokyo considered prime location for casino
development, climbed 3.1 percent.
    Among big market caps, NTT DoCoMo gained 2.2
percent to a 6-1/2-year high after it reported a fall in
contract cancellation in the three months to June.
    The broader Topix advanced 0.4 percent to 1,286.74,
while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also rose 0.4 percent
to 11,717.03.

 (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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