3 Min Read
* Nikkei poised to post first weekly gains in 6 weeks
* U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin comments lift mood
* Autos, electronics products makers rise
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, April 21 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose to 1-1/2 week highs on Friday as global investors bet that U.S. tax reforms are getting back on track, but Fujifilm Holdings tumbled after it delayed its earnings release due to an accounting probe.
While investors awaited this weekend's first round of voting in France's presidential election this weekend, the Japanese equities market recouped some of the losses posted in the past few weeks.
Investor caution had also heightened amid mounting tensions between North Korea and the United States.
On Friday, the Nikkei 225 share average gained 0.9 percent to 18,597.25 points by mid-morning, its highest level since April 12.
For the week, it looked set to gain 1.3 percent and end higher for the first time in six weeks.
Traders said sentiment was lifted by overnight comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said that the Donald Trump administration will unveil a tax reform plan very soon and expects it will be approved by Congress this year whether a healthcare overhaul happens or not.
"Many people have been worried that Trump's promised tax reform may not happen," said Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management. "Investors are picking up shares today which had been battered over the past few weeks, such as exporters."
The dollar held steady versus the yen at 109.28 yen after rising 0.4 percent on Thursday, lifting automakers and other exporters.
Toyota Motor Corp added 1.5 percent, Mazda Motor Corp surged 1.7 percent, Panasonic Corp advanced 1.6 percent and TDK Corp added 1.2 percent.
However, Fujifilm Holdings Corp tumbled more than 3 percent after it postponed its earnings report over an investigation into accounting practices at an overseas unit.
Yaskawa Electric, one of the first companies to report earnings, dropped 2.4 percent even after it said it expected a 31.5 percent rise in its operating profit for this fiscal year.
The company which makes alternating current (AC) turbo motors, expects the dollar to average 110 yen this fiscal year, and the market is concerned that the further rise in the yen could eat into its earnings.
Meanwhile, electronic products maker Ibiden Co jumped 7 percent after it said it expects an operating profit of 7 billion yen, up from previously forecast 5 billion yen thanks to the stronger-than-expected dollar-yen levels.
The broader Topix gained 0.9 percent to 1,486.02 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.9 percent to 13,301.22. (Editing by Kim Coghill)