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Nikkei rises to 6-month high, chip-related shares lead gains

TOKYO, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average scaled a near six-month high on Thursday, driven by strong gains in semiconductor-related stocks, with investors sticking to hopes that Washington will deliver stimulus even as talks between U.S. lawmakers stall.

The Nikkei rose above its July 9 peak to hit its highest level since Feb. 21, almost fully recovering from its decline since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. By midday, it was up 1.88% at 23,272.34.

The broader Topix rose 1.10% to 1,623.18, closing in on its June peak.

“Looking at various data, the prospects of a recovery in the global manufacturing sector are getting solid,” said Takuya Hozumi, global investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Investors also clung to hopes for more fiscal stimulus out of the United States despite a lack of any signs of progress in the talks between the White House and Democrats.

Semi-conductor related shares advanced on hopes for more chip demand related to new technologies, such as 5G communication, after strong gains in global peers.

Chip-making machine maker Tokyo Electron rose 3.3% while Murata Manufacturing, manufacturer of capacitors and other electronic parts, added 2.7%.

Precision machine makers were the top performer among the 33 Topix industry subindexes. Olympus jumped 3.3% to a record high, while Terumo rose 3.8%.

Pan Pacific International Holdings jumped 8.3% following brisk earnings growth and a dividend hike, while Secom rose 4.9% after consensus-beating earnings.

Dai-ichi Life Holding gained 2.5% on a share buyback plan.

Some value-oriented shares, many of which are battling sinking demand due to the pandemic, gave into profit-taking after strong gains so far this month.

Nippon Steel, which had risen more than 20% so far this month, fell 2.5%.

Topix value rose just 0.5%, trailing 1.5% gains in Topix growth (Editing by Aditya Soni)