Nikkei gains on upbeat U.S. corporate earnings, data

By Ayai Tomisawa
Man looks at an electronic board displaying Japan's Nikkei average and various countries' stock indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo
A man looks at an electronic board displaying Japan's Nikkei average (top C) and various countries' stock indices, as passers-by walk past outside a brokerage in Tokyo April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average advanced on Friday after upbeat U.S. economic data and corporate earnings bolstered investors' risk appetite.

The Nikkei was up 0.4 percent at 14,474.83 in midmorning trade after ending flat at 14,417.53 the previous day. For the week, the Nikkei has added 3.7 percent, and is poised to post its biggest weekly rise in two months.

Market players said the Nikkei should stay resilient on Friday, though trading volume may be subdued due to fewer participants with many overseas markets closed for Easter.

"In the U.S., there is some stability now. Macro data has been pretty good this week," said a senior trader at a foreign brokerage.

He said that a selloff in U.S. tech shares, which rattled not only the U.S. market but also Japanese stocks early this month, may last longer. But he said recent stellar earnings reports, including those from Morgan Stanley and General Electric, have lifted investors' risk appetite for now.

"People overseas have been putting long-only money in Japan in the last couple of days," he said.

The latest data showed the U.S. economy's health was improving. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected in the latest week. Factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region expanded in April at a faster clip than anticipated, according to a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Bellwether exporters were higher as the dollar traded at 102.43 yen, moving away from a three-week low of 101.32 yen. Toyota Motor Corp rose 1.1 percent, Sony Corp added 0.7 percent and Tokyo Electron Ltd gained 1.9 percent.

Shiseido Co rose 1.3 percent after the cosmetics maker raised its operating profit outlook for the fiscal year that ended in March to 49.5 billion yen from 42.0 billion yen, thanks to strong sales ahead of the consumption tax hike on April 1.

The broader Topix rose 0.4 percent to 1,171.61. The new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.5 percent to 10,661.85.

(Editing by Chris Gallagher)