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Japanese stocks rise to 1-1/2-week high; Seven & I shines

SYDNEY, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The Nikkei’s benchmark index struck its highest in over a week on Friday as the safe-haven yen eased on hopes of progress in U.S.-China trade talks, and Seven & I Holdings, Japan’s largest convenience store operator, gained sharply on restructuring plans.

The Nikkei average gained 0.9% to 21,741.70 in midmorning trade, its highest level since Oct. 2. For the week, it was up 1.6% and was on track to post its first gain in three weeks.

The broader Topix added 0.5% to 1,589.14, also marking its highest since Oct. 2.

Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators wrapped up a first day of trade talks in more than two months on Thursday, as business groups expressed optimism the two sides might be able to de-escalate a trade war and delay a U.S. tariff hike scheduled for next week.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that his team had a “very, very good negotiation” with China, and reiterated his plans to meet with Liu at the White House on Friday.

As the retail sector’s June-August earnings season got under way in Japan, notable movers include Seven & I Holdings and Fast Retailing.

Seven & I jumped 5.4% to hit its highest since late March after announcing massive restructuring plans, including job cuts and store closures.

Nikkei-heavyweight Fast Retailing Co climbed 3.4% as the operator of Uniqlo chain booked a record annual profit for a third consecutive year on strong sales in China and forecast further growth in the current business year through August.

Bucking the overall firmness, Yaskawa Electric Corp , a bellwether for manufacturing trends, shed 2.5% after the motor and factory-robot maker slashed its full-year operating profit forecast. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)