November 26, 2019 / 3:40 AM / 11 days ago

Nikkei hits near 13-1/2-month high on U.S.-China trade progress

TOKYO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Japan’s benchmark Nikkei hit its highest level in more than a year on Tuesday, led by electronics parts and semiconductor-related stocks as a weaker yen and progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks buoyed appetite for export-oriented firms.

The Nikkei share average climbed as much as 1.35% to 23,608.06, its highest level since Oct. 5, 2018, and ended the morning session up 0.6% at 23,431.74.

Tokyo shares tracked regional gains after China’s commerce ministry said Vice premier Liu He, China’s chief trade negotiator, held a call with his U.S. counterparts and that both sides agreed to maintain communication on remaining issues.

Wall Street’s three major stock indexes closed at records on Monday on the reports of progress on a tariff truce between the world’s two largest economies.

A Chinese state-backed tabloid said Beijing and Washington were “very close” to an initial pact, which lifted New York-listed semiconductor and other trade-sensitive stocks.

Taking a positive cue from this, chip-related and electronics component firms were also buoyant in Tokyo on Tuesday.

SUMCO Corp and Advantest Corp climbed 3.1% and 2.9%, respectively, and Murata Manufacturing Co and TDK Corp jumped 3.9% and 3.7%, respectively.

The Japanese yen weakened by as much as 0.3% to 109.205 versus the dollar on Tuesday, supporting exporters as a softer yen boosted overseas corporate profits.

Export-oriented Fanuc Corp advanced 2.2%, while Toshiba added 1.7% and Sony Corp rose 1.6%.

Hitachi Ltd gained 2.3% after the Nikkei business daily reported on Monday that the Japanese conglomerate is nearing a deal to sell its 51% stake in Hitachi Chemical Co to Showa Denko KK in a transaction that could be worth about 950 billion yen ($8.7 billion).

Hitachi Chemical soared 15.6%, while Showa Denko shed 4.9% to become the fifth-most traded stocks on the main board as the transaction amount appears to be too big for the chemical engineering group.

Elsewhere, Asahi Kasei Corp climbed 2.3% after the Japanese chemical firm made a $1.3 billion offer to buy Denmark’s pharmaceutical company Veloxis.

The broader Topix rose 0.5% to 1,710.81 by the midday break. ($1 = 108.6400 yen) (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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