* Turnover, volume both heavy
* Short-term hedge funds seen covering short positions -
* Steel shares underperform after U.S. anti-dumping probe
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, May 8 Japanese shares hit levels not seen
in more than 17 months on Monday in heavy trade as the yen
stayed weak after Emmanuel Macron was elected president of
France, as a business-friendly vision of European integration
helped boost investor confidence.
The Nikkei share average soared 2.3 percent to
19,895.70, the highest closing level since early December 2015.
It was the biggest daily percentage gain since mid-February.
Macron's resounding victory over a nationalist, who had
threatened to take France out of the European Union, brought
relief to investors who had feared another populist upheaval
after Britain's vote to exit the European Union last year.
Traders said long-term foreign investors such as pension
funds and mutual funds had chased the market higher last month
by buying Japanese stocks with robust earnings. But on Monday,
short-term foreign investors such as hedge fund managers who
were seen shorting Japanese stocks on geopolitical risks in late
March to early April were seen covering their short positions.
"Political risks in Europe were one of the biggest risks of
the year, but with Macron winning French election, such risks
have receded so they are seen buying back," said Norihiro
Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan
He said foreigners were seen buying cyclical stocks and
companies with strong growth such as Keyence Corp,
which ended 4 percent higher.
All of the Topix's 33 subsectors were in positive territory,
and turnover was 3.4 trillion yen, the biggest since early
On the other hand, steel shares underperformed after U.S.
trade officials on Friday said their anti-dumping and subsidy
probe found carbon and steel cut-to-length plate from eight
other countries harms American producers, locking in duties on
the imports for five years.
JFE Holdings and Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal
Corp fell about 0.3 percent each.
The broader Topix rose 2.3 percent to 1,585.86, with
2.408 billion shares changing hands, the highest since mid
The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 2.3 percent to
(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)