* Toshiba nosedives after saying it may sell more of chip
* SoftBank buys Fortress for $3.3 bln
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Feb 15 Japanese stocks rose on Wednesday
morning as the dollar jumped after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair
Janet Yellen hinted at an interest rate hike next month, with
financial stocks outperforming on higher yields.
The weak yen lifted exporters too and took the sting off a
bruising slide in shares of Toshiba Corp after it
booked a massive writedown.
The Nikkei gained 1.2 percent to 19,459.62 in
Yellen told the U.S. Senate Banking Committee the central
bank will likely need to raise interest rates at one of its
"The market takes heart from Yellen's comment and such
positive sentiment will likely last throughout the day," said
Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities.
Higher U.S. Treasury yields attracted buying in insurers
and banks, whose sectors rose 5.1 percent
and 2.2 percent, respectively. Dai-ichi Life Holdings
jumped 5.1 percent, MS&AD Insurance surged 5.5 percent
and Sompo Holdings soared 4.6 percent.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose 2.5 percent and
Mizuho Financial Group rose 1.6 percent.
Exporters also rallied, with Panasonic Corp rising
2.7 percent, Hitachi Ltd adding 1.8 percent and Honda
Motor Co gaining 1.3 percent.
The dollar was at 114.28 yen, not far from the
two-week peak of 114.49 yen touched on Tuesday.
Toshiba tumbled more than 10 percent after the conglomerate
said it would book a $6.3 billion hit to its U.S. nuclear unit
and may sell more of its prized flash-memory chip business than
planned to urgently raise funds.
Corporate activity was also a focus in the market, with
SoftBank Group Corp agreeing to buy Fortress Investment
Group LLC, a private-equity firm and asset manager, for
about $3.3 billion in cash - a surprise move for a group that
has to date focused on telecoms and technology.
SoftBank shares were up 0.8 percent.
The broader Topix added 1.1 percent to 1,555.84 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 1.2 percent to
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)